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Former Wimbledon champion Novotna dies

Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna has died at 49, the World Tennis Association (WTA) has said.

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

Known for her prowess as a doubles player, Novotna finally won her only singles Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 1998, after losing in the final in 1993 and 1997.

Her serve-and-volley game was a rarity among women, and helped make her a formidable doubles player.

Over her career Novotna won 17 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in doubles and four in mixed doubles.

Novotna defeated Frenchwoman Nathalie Tauziat to win her Wimbledon crown.

Five years earlier, following her close defeat to Steffi Graf, Novotna, then aged 24, cried on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent, who was presenting trophy. The raw display of emotion won her many fans.

Jana Navotna was comforted by the Duchess of Kent after narrowly losing to Steffi Graff at Wimbledon in 1993
Jana Novotna is comforted by the Duchess of Kent in 1993

Stars of the sports world have mourned her loss.

Andrew Castle, the former British number one tennis player, tweeted: “Driving through the gates of Wimbledon this morning when I heard the news of the death of Jana Novotna. What a terrible shame.

“She was good fun of an evening, a champion on court, so tough to play against. And her smile was wonderful.”

Olympic rowing champion Matthew Pinsent tweeted: “No better demonstration of the emotion of sport than Jana Novotna. RIP.”

Novotna turned professional in 1987 and retired in 1999.

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

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

Following her retirement she became a professional coach.

Steve Simon, WTA CEO, 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.”

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