Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna has died aged 49.
The WTA announced the news this morning in a Twitter post.
The statement read: “It is with deep sadness that the WTA announces the passing on Sunday, November 19, of Jana Novotna, aged 49.”
Jana Novotna with the gold plate after winning the Ladies Final match against Nathalie Tauziat at Wimbledon. Photo: Neil Munns/PA
Novotna won the Wimbledon women’s singles title in 1998 and was beaten by Steffi Graf in the 1993 final.
The Czech had been battling cancer and died surrounded by her family at her home.
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.
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.”
Former British number one Jo Durie paid tribute to Novotna’s spirit on court.
She said on Twitter: “Oh no how terrible sad. All thoughts to her family and friends. So glad Jana won Wimbledon. Such a fighter on court & a wicked sense of humour.”
Former American doubles star Pam Schriver added: “Jana was as kind as she was athletic, as smart as she was competive. I can’t believe she is gone this soon. Her smile lives forever young.”