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Tennis world in mourning over death of Jana Novotna

21 November, 2017, 00:29 | Author: Joan Malone
  • Jana Novotna dead aged just 49 after ex-Wimbledon champion's lengthy battle with cancer

"After a long battle with cancer, Jana died peacefully, surrounded by her family in her native Czech Republic, aged 49". But it was the highlight of her singles career that came to define her.

The Czech star collected a total of 17 Grand Slams, including 12 in doubles and four in mixed-doubles events. After Novotna's death following a long fight with cancer, Wimbledon, the tournament where she really made her name in both defeat and victory, paid tribute to her as "a true champion in all senses of the word".

Her serve-and-volley game was a rarity among women, and helped make her a formidable doubles player. "She said that she was very happy that I had finally won this championship". The failure was all too much for the then 24-year-old Novotna to take.

She also played twice in the semi-finals of the French Open and US Open.

Jana was a celebrated tennis star and was once ranked WTA World number 1 in doubles and number 2 in singles.

"Jana was an inspiration both on and off the court to anyone who had the opportunity to know her", said Steve Simon, the W.T.A.'s chief executive.

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So, it seemed, was the whole of tennis as the woman who had come so close to the biggest prizes became the oldest first-time women's grand-slam singles victor in the Open era.

Former U.S. Open finalist Pam Shriver said on Twitter: "Jana was as kind as she was athletic, as smart as she was competitive".

She won three Olympic medals, securing a bronze in singles and silver in doubles with Helena Sukova in Atlanta in 1996.

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

She was a member of the 1988 Fed Cup-winning squad when Czechoslovakia got the upper hand against the Soviet Union in the final of the most prestigious women's team tournament.

"The thoughts of all those at Wimbledon are with her family and friends". "And her smile was wonderful".

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