Jana Novotna: Former Wimbledon champion dies aged just 49

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Czech tennis player Jana Novotna, a Wimbledon champion in 1998 and 16-time grand-slam victor in doubles and mixed doubles, has died at the age of 49 after a long battle with cancer, the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) said on Monday.

The WTA announced Novotna's death on Monday. It is known that the tennis player was sick with cancer, and died at home, in the Czech Republic, surrounded by his loved ones.

Winning 100 tournaments - 24 WTA singles and 76 doubles, including one grand slam singles and 16 doubles titles - plus three Olympic medals and the Fed Cup with Czechoslovakia, made her an outstanding champion.

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

As the trophies were being presented, the Czech tennis player cried on the Duchess of Kent's shoulder.

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Jana Novotna was famously consoled by the Duchess of Kent after her Wimbledon defeat in 1993. She won at Wimbledon back in 1998.

Grand Slam victor Chris Evert said: "A sad loss to the tennis world, but a devastating loss to those of us who shared a deep friendship with her.a woman with integrity and honor".

"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. "Unfortunately, she started playing better and I did not". Our condolences and our thoughts are with Jana's family. 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. She will be always the champion for me. 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.

Barabara Schett also played alongside Novotna in invitational events and she wrote: "What a wonderful person, handsome soul tennis player and role model we have lost today".

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