Former Wimbledon Champion Jana Novotna Dies at Age 49

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2017

FILE - In this July 4, 1998 file photo, Jana Novotna, of the Czech Republic, displays the women's singles trophy after her victory over France's Nathalie Tauziat in the final on Wimbledon's Centre Court. The WTA says the 1998 Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic has died. In a Monday, Nov. 20, 2017 statement, the WTA say Novotna died after battling a cancer on Sunday, Nov. 19. She was 49.  (AP Photo/Dave Caulkin, File )
DAVE CAULKIN/Associated Press

Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna died on Sunday aged 49, the WTA have confirmed.

BBC Sport's Russell Fuller relayed the news from a statement made by the WTA on Monday:

WTA CEO 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."

The Czech won 24 singles titles and received a career-high ranking of world No. 2.

Her pinnacle was her victory at Wimbledon in 1998, her penultimate season as a professional. It was her third time of asking at SW19 having lost in finals to Steffi Graf in 1993 and Martina Hingis in 1997, and she also reached the 1991 Australian Open final only to lose to Monica Seles.

Novotna's tears after her defeat to Graf, which saw her consoled by the Duchess of Kent having led the third set 4-1 before losing five games in succession, became one of the enduring moments of her career, as BT Sport's Jake Humphrey noted:

In the doubles, Novotna reached No. 1 and won 76 titles including 16 Grand Slams, four of which came in mixed competition, and she also won both the Fed Cup and the Hopman Cup.

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Fellow sportspeople, broadcasters and journalists paid tribute to her on Twitter:

A serve and volley specialist, Novotna also earned two silver medals for doubles at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and Atlanta in 1996, as well as a bronze medal in the latter for singles.

The 49-year-old moved into coaching in recent years and briefly coached Marion Bartoli in 2013, just three months before the Frenchwoman won Wimbledon and broke Novotna's record of winning a maiden Grand Slam after the most attempts.

Novotna was entered into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.