Published: Tue, November 21, 2017
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Jana Novotna, 1998 Wimbledon champion, dies at 49

Jana Novotna, 1998 Wimbledon champion, dies at 49

Andrew Castle, the former British number one tennis player, tweeted: "Driving through the gates of Wimbledon this morning when I heard the news of the death of Jana Novotna".

In a statement on its website, the WTA said the former world No.2 died peacefully "surrounded by her family in her native Czech Republic".

FORMER Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna has died aged just 49 after a long battle battle with cancer.

She finally took the chance to prove it beyond doubt when, a year after losing to Hingis, she lifted the 1998 Wimbledon crown, with practically everyone on Centre Court cheering her, by beating Frenchwoman Nathalie Tauziat in straight sets.

At the peak of her powers in the 1990s, Novotna features in one of the most enduring images in the long history of Wimbledon after famously being consoled by the Duchess of Kent after losing the 1993 final to Steffi Graf. "Her star will always shine brightly in the history of the W.T.A". "Our condolences and our thoughts are with Jana's family", WTA's CEO Steve Simon said.

Over her career Novotna won 17 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in doubles and four in mixed doubles.

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She was a member of the 1988 Fed Cup-winning squad when Czechoslovakia got the upper hand against the Soviet Union in the final of the most prestigious women's team tournament. "Such a fighter on court & a wicked sense of humour".

"I think everyone had a tear in their eye when she didn't win that first final against Steffi".

"She always supported us from the stands when she could".

So, it seemed, was the whole of tennis as the woman who had come so close to the biggest prizes became the oldest first-time women's grand-slam singles victor in the Open era. "Jana was a true friend and an awesome woman". "I am gutted and beyond words", tweeted the Czechoslovakia-born Navratilova, a former world No.1 and victor of 18 singles Grand Slam titles. "Her smile lives forever young".

She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.

"The thoughts of all those at Wimbledon are with her family and friends".

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