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Jana Novotna: Former Wimbledon champ dead at 49

By
Alex Butler
Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic died on Sunday. She was the 1998 singles champion at Wimbledon. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI
Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic died on Sunday. She was the 1998 singles champion at Wimbledon. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The Women's Tennis Association announced the passing of 1998 Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna. She was 49-years-old.

"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," a WTA statement said. "After a long battle with cancer, Jana died peacefully, surrounded by her family in her native Czech Republic, aged 49."

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"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."

Novotna won 17 Grand Slam titles. She won a dozen of those titles in doubles and four in mixed doubles. She was also a three-time Olympic medalist. She was a member of the Czech Republic's 1988 Fed Cup championship team. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005. She was recently serving as a professional coach.

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"Jana was an inspiration both on and off court to anyone who had the opportunity to know her," WTA CEO Steve Simon said in a statement. "Her star will always shine brightly in the history of the WTA. Our condolences and our thoughts are with Jana's family."

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Tennis stars reacted to Novotna's departure with heavy hearts.

"The tennis world is so sad about the passing of Jana Novotna...I am gutted and beyond words- Jana was a true friend and an amazing woman," Martina Navratilova tweeted.

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Wimbledon tweeted a statement on Novotna's passing Monday morning.

"The All England Club is deeply saddened to hear the news of Jana Novotna's passing," the tweet said. "She was a true champion in all senses of the word, and her 1998 triumph will live long in the memory."

"The thoughts of all those at Wimbledon are with her family and friends."

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Novotna claimed her only Wimbledon singles trophy at 29-years-old when she defeated Nathalie Tauziat in three sets.

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