Jana Novotna, Czech Winner of Wimbledon, Dies at 49

Jana Novotna breaks down and weeps as she accepts the loser's plate from the Duchess of Kent after the Ladies' Singles Final on the Centre Court at Wimbledon London. The WTA says 1998 Wimbledo

The WTA announced the news in a statement that Jana passed away in her home country of Czech Republic while surrounded by family on Sunday (November 19).

She also lost the 1997 Wimbledon final before going on to win the title in 1998, beating Nathalie Tauziat in the final.

That ended up being her only grand slam title in singles, though she was prolific in the doubles, winning 24 grand slams and ticking off the full set of Wimbledon, the French Open, the Australian Open and the US Open.

"Jana was an inspiration both on and off the court to anyone who had the opportunity to know her", said Steve Simon, the W.T.A.'s chief executive. As her "true friend" Martina Navratilova said on social media on Monday: "Jana was an incredible woman".

Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna has died at the age of 49. The win came five years after Novotna lost a 4-1 lead to top-seeded Steffi Graf in the final set of the 1993 Wimbledon singles final and then famously cried on the Duchess of Kent's shoulder.

"She always supported us from the stands when she could". "I am gutted and beyond words".

In 2015, Novotna spoke to Czech newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes of her love for the sport and said she could not go a day without tennis.




Novotna was also a three-time Olympic medallist and won the Fed Cup championship in 1998 as part of the Czech Republic team.

Novotna retired in 1999 after 14 years on the court.

She captured the hearts of fans when she burst into tears after losing to German great Steffi Graf in 1993 and was consoled by the Duchess of Kent.

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.

Some of the biggest names in tennis have taken to social media to pay tribute.

Former American doubles star Pam Shriver added: "Jana was as kind as she was athletic, as smart as she was competive".

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