Former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna dies at 49

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Former tennis star Jana Novotna died on Sunday at age 49 after a long battle with cancer, the Women's Tennis Association said Monday on its website.

Novotna won her only Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon in 1998, eventually triumphing after two losses in the final at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in 1993 and 1997. "Jana died peacefully, surrounded by her family in her native Czech Republic", the WTA added.

She won 17 Grand Slam titles over her career, including 16 in doubles and mixed doubles, as well as three Olympic medals.

"Jana was an inspiration both on and off the court to anyone who had the opportunity to know her", said Steve Simon, the W.T.A.'s chief executive. Our condolences and our thoughts are with Jana's family.' Novotna retired from tennis in 1999, and was introduced into International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.

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Her highly successful career spanned 14 years in which Novotna picked up 100 titles including 76 doubles crowns.

She was a silver medallist in doubles at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and 1996 Atlanta Games. In an iconic moment, she was then comforted by the Duchess of Kent after bursting into tears during the presentation ceremony.

But finally, 1998 brought redemption. She laid waste to a couple of demons en route, beating Venus Williams in the quarter-final before avenging the final defeat to Hingis in the last four.

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