Jana Novotna, Eastbourne favourite and Wimbledon champion, dies aged 49

Jana Novotna
Jana Novotna

Eastbourne and Wimbledon tennis champion Jana Novotna has died from cancer, aged 49.

The Czech player was a crowd favourite at Devonshire Park during her playing career.

Novotna was a fine grass court player and shared the Eastbourne title in 1997 with Arantxa Sánchez Vicario as the match was abandoned due to rain.

The following year, the two players met once again in the final on centre court at Devonshire Park and this time, Novotna beat the Spaniard to claim the women’s singles title.

She went on to claim the Wimbledon title that year. She beat defending champ Martina Hingis in the semi-final and then defeated Nathalie Tauziat in the final, 6–4, 7–6 - her first win in a Wimbledon final on her third attempt.

A statement from the WTA read, “It is with deep sadness that the WTA announces the passing on Sunday, November 19, of Jana Novotna.

“After a long battle with cancer, Jana died peacefully, surrounded by her family in her native Czech Republic, aged 49.”

Novotna was also a highly skilled and successful doubles player. She won won a remarkable 24 grand slams, including the full set of Wimbledon, the French Open, the Australian Open and the US Open.

WTA chief executive officer Steve Simon 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.”

Former British No 1 Jo Durie said on Twitter: “Oh no how terrible sad. All thoughts to her family and friends. So glad Jana won Wimbledon. Such a fighter on court & a wicked sense of humour.”