Jana Novotna, twice crowned Singles champion at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park, has died aged 49.
The Czech star, who captured the 1998 Wimbledon crown, became a big hit with the fans at the Wimbledon warm-up tournament during her glittering career.
Novotna was forced to share the 1997 Eastbourne title – the Direct Line International – in 1997 with Spaniard Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, after their final was abandoned because of rain.
Yet the following season Novotna had the chance to prove her pedigree when the two players met again in the Eastbourne final. But Novotna was in cruise control on Centre Court to capture the 1998 Direct Line title 6-1 7-5 to earn her second tournament success of the year.
This Devonshire Park victory instilled much-needed confidence into the lofty blonde, so she followed it up with a memorable Wimbledon title win – her 22nd tournament triumph – beating France’s Natalie Tauziat 6-4 7-6.
The WTA issued a statement on Twitter:
— WTA (@WTA) November 20, 2017
Novotna, who reached three Wimbledon Singles finals that culminated with her 1998 success which included destroying defending champion Martina Hingis of Switzerland in the last four, was known moreso for her Doubles prowess.
She collected 24 Doubles Grand Slams, including the full set of the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
Jo Durie, the former British #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. //t.co/ShNuxwo5o6
— Jo Durie (@Jodurie) November 20, 2017