Former World no 2 and 17-time world champion Jana Novotna passed away at the age of 49 after a long battle with cancer. 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 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.
She lost both 1993 and 1997 Wimbledon finals before finally winning in London when she beat Nathalie Tauziat in 1998.
Novotna won the hearts of tennis fans around the world when she burst into tears after losing to German great Steffi Graf in 1993 and was consoled by the Duchess of Kent. Novotna had said that the Duchess had told her "she would do it" when she went to collect her runner-up trophy.WTA chief executive officer Steve Simon said: “Jana was an inspiration both on and off the 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.”