Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna dies aged 49

Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic is all smiles after taking home a $79,000 check from the Advanta Tennis Championship in Villanova Pa. The WTA says the 1998 Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna of the Czech Republi

Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna has died aged 49.

The Woman's Tennis Association (WTA) announced her passing after a long battle with cancer.

During an illustrious career, Novotna won 17 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in doubles and four in mixed doubles, and was a member of the Czech Republic's victorious 1998 Fed Cup team. I remember our hugs and our tears after my Wimbledon titles. We have all been in that situation where you almost win but you can't quite do it and your opponent gets the better of you. Again, she lost, this time to Martina Hingis, after being a point away from a 3-0 lead in the final set, but this time she was scuppered not so much by a lack of nerve as by an abdominal injury as the Swiss swept the last set.

"She always supported us from the stands when she could".

Novotna also represented her country with success, claiming silver medals at the 1988 and 1996 Olympics as well as a bronze in Atlanta.

"Novotna was renowned for her aggressive serve and volley game and achieved a career-high singles ranking of number two. Jana was a true friend and an fantastic woman".

Czech-born Navratilova posted a tribute to Novotna on Twitter: "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 fantastic woman". "I am gutted and beyond words", tweeted the Czechoslovakia-born Navratilova, a former world No.1 and victor of 18 singles Grand Slam titles.

Novotna was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005 and WTA chief executive Steve Simon says that her legacy is set in stone.

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

It again furthered the idea that Novotna was one of sport's great "chokers", but it was a tag that she always challenged feistily.

As her "true friend" Martina Navratilova said on social media on Monday: "Jana was an incredible woman".

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