The international tennis community has lost a champion recently. Jana Novotna, former Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) world singles and doubles champion, died surrounded by her family on Sunday, November 19, 2017. Novotna had struggled with cancer for many years, and finally succumbed to the disease. She was 49 years of age.
Jana Novotna was an inspiration to many tennis players, both men and women, for her work ethic and her passion for the sport of tennis. Born in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1968, Jana became a professional tennis player in 1987. She was right-handed with a distinctive one-handed backhand style and adherence to a serve and volley style of play, a style that is increasingly rare in the women’s professional field.
Jana Novotna racked up an impressive number of wins during her professional tennis career. She won the women’s single title at Wimbledon in 1998, having attained runner-up position in three previous Grand Slam tennis tournaments
During her career, she won a total of 12 Grand Slam women’s double titles, four mixed double titles, and three Olympic medals. In the 1988 Seoul Games, she represented her home country of Czechoslovakia and won a silver in women’s doubles. In the 1996 Atlanta Games, representing the Czech Republic, she won a second silver in women’s doubles and a bronze in women’s singles. These victories and placings gave her a career high of world no. 2 ranking in 1997, and she held the world no. 1 ranking for 67 non-consecutive weeks over the course of her professional career.
Jana was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.
Following her retirement from the professional tour in 1999, Jana Novotna served as a color commentator for the Wimbledon on the BBC Network. In later years, she was a fixture on the invitational circuit; starting in 2006, she played at the Ladies’ Invitation Doubles tournament at Wimbledon. She won that invitational tournament from 2006-2008 and again in 2010 and 2014.
She also played a wide range of other tournaments, including invitational doubles in the other Grand Slams as well as charity events, tennis exhibitions, and tennis clinics. During this time period, she also applied her talents to coaching, providing instruction and guidance to several up-and-coming pro players like Barbora Krejcikova.
Novotna lived in Florida up until 2010, choosing to return to her native Czech Republic and building a house in Omice, just outside her hometown of Brno. She lived there until her death in 2017.
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