Former Wimbledon champion Novotna dies

Jana Novotna, who won the won the Wimbledon Ladies' Singles title in 1998, has passed away following a long battle with cancer.

The 49-year-old Czech "died peacefully, surrounded by her family", according to the Women's Tennis Association.

Novotna's Wimbledon victory came after she lost two previous finals at the All-England Club in 1993 and 1997.

She famously captured the hearts of fans after losing to German great Steffi Graf in 1993 and being consoled by the Duchess of Kent.

In all, Novotna won 17 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in doubles and four in mixed doubles.

"It is with deep sadness that the WTA announces the passing on Sunday, November 19, of Jana Novotna, the former WTA World No.1 doubles and No.2 singles champion. After a long battle with cancer, Jana died peacefully, surrounded by her family in her native Czech Republic, aged 49," read a statement on the WTA website.

"Known for her brilliant, athletic game, Novotna won 24 WTA singles titles in 14 years on the professional women's circuit, along with 76 doubles titles.

"Having reached the Wimbledon singles final twice previously, she famously defeated the Frenchwoman Nathalie Tauziat to win the title in 1998. Altogether, she won 17 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in doubles and four in mixed doubles. She was a three-time Olympic medallist and a member of her country's victorious Fed Cup championship team in 1988.

"Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005, her career successes made Jana Novotna an inspiration to those who knew her and to many up and coming WTA players on the professional women's tennis circuit. In more recent years, she made the transition into professional coaching."

Steve Simon, WTA CEO, 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."

After losses to Graf in '93 and Martina Hingis in '97 in two Wimbledon finals, Novotna finally claimed a deserved win over Nathalie Tauziat to clinch the title that eluded her for so long, having also defeated Hingis in the semi-finals.