Grand-slam winner Jana Novotna died on Sunday, prompting an outpouring of tributes from the tennis world, including former Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova.
Tennis great Martina Navratilova labelled Jana Novotna “a true friend and an amazing woman” after the Czech died of cancer aged 49.
A statement from the WTA said Novotna passed away peacefully on Sunday surrounded by her family.
Novotna won 12 doubles’ titles in grand slams, but is perhaps most fondly remembered for her singles triumph at Wimbledon in 1998, an emotional victory which came five years after a final defeat at the All England club to Steffi Graf left her in tears on Centre Court.
Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna won the ladies’ invitational doubles title in 2010, after Navratilova had recovered from breast cancer.
Czech-born Martina 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 amazing woman…”
Grand Slam winner 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. RIP Jana.”
Her career intrinsically linked with Wimbledon, Jana Novotna was also paid a tribute by SW19 in a statement that read: “The All England Club is deeply saddened to hear the news of Jana Novotna’s passing.
“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.”
Jana Novotna won the 1991 French Open alongside Gigi Fernandez and the American posted: “RIP my friend. Thoughts and Prayers with Jana’s family.”
Czech player Petra Kvitova wrote in an Instagram post: “Today we lost a wonderful person, a Czech who played beautiful tennis, who inspired me and supported me. I remember our hugs and our tears after my Wimbledon titles. Thank you Jana. We will miss you.”
And Karolina Pliskova, the Czech number one, wrote on Twitter: “So sad to hear about Jana Novotna. She will be always the champion for me. RIP.”