Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna dies aged 49
Last Updated: 21/11/17 1:11pm
Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna has died aged 49 after a long battle with cancer.
Novotna won the Wimbledon Ladies' Singles title in 1998, having previously been a beaten finalist on two previous occasions.
In total, the Czech won 17 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in doubles and four in mixed doubles.
"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," read a statement on the WTA website.
"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 medallist 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."
Steve Simon, WTA CEO, said: "Jana was an inspiration both on and off court to anyone who had the opportunity to know her. Her star will always shine brightly in the history of the WTA. Our condolences and our thoughts are with Jana's family."
Novotna enjoyed her greatest success during the 1990s, although she was beaten twice in the Wimbledon final during the decade before tasting success there.
She was beaten by Steffi Graf in the 1993 final and lost to Martina Hingis in the final four years later but Novotna gained her revenge in 1998 when she beat the Swiss in the semi-final and went on to defeat Frenchwoman Tauziat to lift the crown.
Former British No 1 Jo Durie and ex-doubles star Pam Schriver paid tribute to Novotna on Twitter.
"Oh no how terribly sad. All thoughts to her family and friends. So glad Jana won Wimbledon. Such a fighter on court & a wicked sense of humour," tweeted Durie.
Schriver tweeted: "Jana was as kind as she was athletic, as smart as she was competitive. I can't believe she is gone this soon. Her smile lives forever young."