Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna dies, 49, after long battle with cancer

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Former Wimbledon champ loses battle to cancer at the age of 49 Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna was a true victor but it was the misfortune of the brilliant Czech, who died on Monday aged 49, to always be recalled for one of sport's most famous and heart-rending meltdowns despite her collection of 100 tennis titles. She defeated Venus Williams in the quarter-final on the way to that career highlight.

Over her career Novotna won 17 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in doubles and four in mixed doubles. 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". She was good fun of an evening, a champion on court, so tough to play against. The failure was all too much for the then 24-year-old Novotna to take.

The world No.29 posted on Instagram: "Today we lost a wonderful person, a Czech who played handsome tennis, who inspired me and supported me".

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".

Jana Novotna
GETTY LEGEND She was known for bursting into tears after losing against Steffi Graf in 1993

The ex-world No1 passed away peacefully surrounded by family in her native Czech Republic yesterday.

In 2015, Novotna spoke to Czech newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes of her love for the sport and said she could not go a day without tennis.

Novotna said the Duchess had told her "I believe you will do it" and, indeed, she did, winning Wimbledon, aged 29 and nine months, to become the oldest first-time 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 was also a three-time Olympic medal victor.

Novotna also won the Fed Cup with the former Czechoslovakia in 1988, as well as two Olympic doubles silver medals, and a bronze in singles at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. All thoughts to her family and friends.

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