Jana Novotná obituary

Photo of Jana Novotná obituary

Czech tennis player who won the Wimbledon women’s singles title in 1998

The Czech tennis player Jana Novotná, who has died of cancer aged 49, had a career of consistent success that would have more than satisfied most players, but fell some way short of what she would have achieved had she possessed a much steadier nerve.

In 1998, the year before she retired, Novotná became only the fifth female player to pass the $10m mark in career prize money and in the same year was within reach of being ranked No 1 in the world. As an athlete she was among the best of her era, possessed of consummate skill in the dying and difficult art of serve-and-volley and an ability to deliver a backhand smash that was the envy of her peers. And yet in her 14 years at the top of the women’s game she won only 24 tour singles titles. Even more disappointingly, she reached the last eight in 22 of the 50 grand slam singles events in which she competed but managed to convert that consistency into just one title.

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