Jana Novotna, the Czech tennis player who won the 1998 women’s singles at Wimbledon, has died at the age of 49. A statement from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) read: “After a long battle with cancer, Jana died peacefully, surrounded by her family in her native Czech Republic, aged 49.”
Novotna was at the peak of her powers in the 1990s, winning 24 singles titles, but her success at SW19 was her only grand slam victory. Having been beaten in by Martina Hingis in the 1997 final, Novotna exacted her revenge a year later by downing the Swiss in the semi-final and went on to defeat Frenchwoman Nathalie Tauziat to lift the crown.
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It was a moment of redemption for the likeable Novotna, who was in tears after losing the 1993 final to Graf and was consoled by Duchess of Kent at the trophy presentation.
She reached the final of the Australian Open once and the semi-finals of the French Open and US Open twice, while also enjoying prolific success in doubles, winning 12 grand slam titles.
WTA chief executive officer Steve Simon 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.”