Wimbledon winner Jana Novotná dies

She was ranked No. 2 in the world and earned three Olympic medals

Czech tennis star Jana Novotná has passed away at age 49 due to illness. She was one of the world’s top-ranked players in the 1990s and a three-time Olympic medal winner. She retired in 1999.

The Women’s Tennis Association announced the death to the media. “It is with deep sadness that the WTA announces the passing on Sunday, November 19, of Jana Novotná, the former WTA World No.1 doubles and No. 2 singles champion [in 1997]. After a long battle with cancer, Jana died peacefully, surrounded by her family in her native Czech Republic, aged 49,” the WTA statement said, adding that she was “known for her brilliant, athletic game.”

“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,” WTA CEO Steve Simon said.

Fellow tennis star Martina Navratilova reacted to the news on Twitter.

Novotná remained active, even after retirement. “I'm addicted to tennis. Even a day without it would be terrible,” Novotná told daily Mladá fronta Dnes two years ago.

Novotná won 24 WTA singles titles in 14 years on the professional women’s circuit, along with 76 doubles titles. She reached the Wimbledon singles final twice before she defeated France’s Nathalie Tauziat to win the title in 1998. She also won the WTA Finals in 1997.

She is remembered though for becoming emotional in 1993 in Wimbledon when she was defeated by German player Steffi Graf. Photos of Novotná being consoled by the Duchess of Kent endeared her to fans.

In total she won 17 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in doubles and four in mixed doubles. She represented Czechoslovakia and won a silver medal for doubles in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Representing the Czech Republic she won another silver for doubles in 1996 in Atlanta. She also won a bronze medal for singles at Atlanta.

She was a member of Czechoslovakia’s victorious Fed Cup championship team in 1988.

Novotná was Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005. After her retirement as a player, she made the transition into professional coaching.

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