Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna dies after long battle with cancer

Lawrence Cooper
November 21, 2017

Novotna died surrounded by her family in her native Czech Republic after a long battle with cancer, the WTA said.

She won Wimbledon the following year (1998).

Jana Novotna has died of cancer at the age of 49.

Czech-born American great Martina Navratilova led a number of players - both past and present - expressing deep sorrow at Novotna's death. "And winning Wimbledon, I guess it means everything, really".

"She was a lovely person, quite quiet and quite private".

"She was good fun of an evening, a champion on court, so tough to play against". The raw display of emotion won her many fans. We have all been in that situation where you almost win but you can't quite do it and your opponent gets the better of you.

The world No.29 posted on Instagram: "Today we lost a wonderful person, a Czech who played attractive tennis, who inspired me and supported me".

"That took some courage to get through that match after everything she had been through at Wimbledon".

"The crowd love a story like that and she came across so well".

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Been so happy that I was playing at this level from the beginning till basically the end, till today. But I'm going to try something, something different, something that I've never done in the past.

Novotna also won four Wimbledon doubles titles with compatriot Helena Sukova in 1989 and 1990, with Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in 1995 and with Hingis in 1998.

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. She was also a three-time Olympic medal victor.

She also won two Olympic silver medals in doubles, in 1988 and 1996, and a singles bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

She was WTA World No 1 doubles and reached No 2 in singles.

Novotna, renowned for her serve and volley, was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005. "I am gutted and beyond words".

Steve Simon, CEO of the WTA, said: "Jana was an inspiration both on and off court to anyone who had the opportunity to know her". Yet, once again, it heightened the idea that Novotna was one of sport's great "chokers" - one reporter once described her cruelly as "No-No Novotna, the lady from Choke-Oslovakia" - but it was a tag that she always challenged feistily.

Former U.S. Open finalist Pam Shriver said on Twitter: "Jana was as kind as she was athletic, as smart as she was competitive. And her smile was wonderful". All thoughts to her family and friends.

The Women's Tennis Association shared the news in a statement.

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