Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna has died at the age of 49.
Novotna had been suffering with cancer and according to the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) “died peacefully, surrounded by her family.”
The Czech player had lost in the Wimbledon final in both 1993 and 1997 before winning it in 1998.
She memorably burst into tears after losing to Steffi Graf in 1993 and was consoled by the Duchess of Kent.
“Jana was an inspiration both on and off court to anyone who had the opportunity to know her,” said WTA chief executive Steve Simon.
“Her star will always shine brightly in the history of the WTA.
“Our condolences and our thoughts are with Jana’s family.”
A statement by the WTA said: “It is with deep sadness that the WTA announces the passing on Sunday, November 19, of Jana Novotna, the former WTA World No.1 doubles and No.2 singles champion.
“After a long battle with cancer, Jana died peacefully, surrounded by her family in her native Czech Republic, aged 49.
“Known for her brilliant, athletic game, Novotna won 24 WTA singles titles in 14 years on the professional women’s circuit, along with 76 doubles titles.
“Having reached the Wimbledon singles final twice previously, she famously defeated the Frenchwoman Nathalie Tauziat to win the title in 1998.
“Altogether, she won 17 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in doubles and four in mixed doubles.
“She was a three-time Olympic medalist and a member of her country’s victorious Fed Cup championship team in 1988.
“Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005, her career successes made Jana Novotna an inspiration to those who knew her and to many up and coming WTA players on the professional women’s tennis circuit.
“In more recent years, she made the transition into professional coaching.”
By Bill Howell
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.