Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna has died, aged 49

Posted November 21, 2017

Former British number one Jo Durie paid tribute to Jana Novotna's competitive streak following the Czech's death from cancer.

In a statement on its website, the WTA said the former world No.2 died peacefully "surrounded by her family in her native Czech Republic". The women's tennis body said she died on Sunday after a long battle with cancer.

Novotna went on to win 12 Grand Slam doubles titles, four at Wimbledon and three at the French Open, three at the U.S. open and two at the Australian open.

"The tennis world is so sad about the passing of Jana Novotna".

She won the hearts of fans around the world when she burst into tears after throwing away victory against Steffi Graf in the 1993 final when on the verge of victory and was consoled afterwards by the Duchess of Kent.

When presented with the runner's-up trophy, Novotna started to cry and the Duchess of Kent comforted her on Centre Court in a touching moment. But it was the highlight of her singles career that came to define her. "RIP", Pliskova tweeted. Lucie Safarova, the 2015 French Open finalist, posted an image on Instagram of Novotna clutching the Wimbledon trophy after her 1998 victory at the All England Club.

"I think I always said that winning one Grand Slam would mean so much to me", Novotna said after her win over Tauziat. I can't believe she is gone this soon. She reached a high of world number two and became the oldest first-time Grand Slam singles champion at 29 years and nine months - a record since eclipsed by Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta.

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

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. Thoughts and Prayers with Jana's family".

Novotna, renowned for her serve and volley, was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005. Yet, once again, it heightened the idea that Novotna was one of sport's great "chokers" - one reporter once described her cruelly as "No-No Novotna, the lady from Choke-Oslovakia" - but it was a tag that she always challenged feistily.