Jana Novotna, former Wimbledon champion and doubles star, dies at 49

Jana Novotna lost her fight to cancer in her native Czech Republic.  Getty Images

Jana Novotna, a Czech Wimbledon champion who garnered fame after crying on the Duchess of Kent's shoulder after losing the 1993 final at Wimbledon, has died at age 49. Novotna had cancer and died in the Czech Republic. The World Tennis Association confirmed Novotna's death in a statement Monday.

Novotna's biggest successes came on the doubles courts. She had 16 Grand Slam championships in doubles, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005. The full statement from the WTA can be found below:

It is with deep sadness that the WTA announces the passing on Sunday, November 19, of Jana Novotna, the former WTA World No.1 doubles and No.2 singles champion. After a long battle with cancer, Jana died peacefully, surrounded by her family in her native Czech Republic, aged 49.

Known for her brilliant, athletic game, Novotna won 24 WTA singles titles in 14 years on the professional women's circuit, along with 76 doubles titles. Having reached the Wimbledon singles final twice previously, she famously defeated the Frenchwoman Nathalie Tauziat to win the title in 1998. She also won the WTA Finals in 1997.

Altogether, Novotna won 17 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in doubles and four in mixed doubles. She was a three-time Olympic medalist and a member of her country's victorious Fed Cup championship team in 1988.

Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005, her career successes made Jana Novotna an inspiration to those who knew her and to many up and coming WTA players on the professional women's tennis circuit. In more recent years, she made the transition into professional coaching. 

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. Our condolences and our thoughts are with Jana's family."

Novotna's entire career built up to her win at Wimbledon. Five years after that moment with the Duchess of Kent, Novotna won a Wimbledon championship. She was 29 when she won. Novotna ended her career with exactly 100 tournament wins, 76 of those coming in doubles. She retired from pro tennis in 1999, 12 years after she turned pro in 1987.

Novotna's coach, Hana Mandlikova, spoke with the Czech Press Agency, saying it was "difficult to find words" on Novotna's death. "Jana was a great girl," Mandlikova said. "I am very happy it worked out for her at Wimbledon eventually."

Our Latest Stories