Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna dies after battle with cancer

PRAGUE, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Czech tennis player Jana Novotna, a Wimbledon champion in 1998 and 16-time grand slam winner in doubles and mixed doubles, has died at the age of 49 after a long battle with cancer, the Women's Tennis Association said on Monday.

Novotna, who entered the tennis Hall of Fame in 2005, died surrounded by her family in the Czech Republic, the WTA said.

RELATED: Photos of Jana Novotna through the years

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Jana Novotna through the years
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Jana Novotna through the years
Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic plays a return to France's Nathalie Dechy during their fourth round match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships June 28. Novotna is seed number five in the competition. KD JB/ME
Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic waves to the crowd after winning her third round match against Maria Sanchez Lorenzo of Spain at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships June 26. Novotna won the match 6-4 6-3. KD JB
Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic plays a return during her quarter-final match against Lindsay Davenport of the U.S. at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships July 1. Novotna is seed number five in the competition. JB
Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic rests during a change-over in her quarter-final match against Lindsay Davenport of the U.S. at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships July 1. Novotna is seed number five in the competition. JB/JRE
Reigning Wimbledon Champion Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic looks out from Centre Court as rain delays the start of the eigth day's play at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships June 29. Centre Court was due to stage the first match of the day with Britain's Tim Henman taking on Jim Courier of the U.S., restarting from yesterday when rain stopped play. KD/JB/CLH/
Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic sits during a change-over in her quarter-final match against Lindsay Davenport of the U.S. at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships July 1. Davenport won the match 6-3 6-4. JB/JDP
Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic returns a forehand to compatriot Adriana Gersi during their match on the second day of the Roland Garros French tennis open May 26. Novotna defeated Gersi 6-3 6-2. JNA//ME
Czech Jana Novotna returns the ball to Russia's Elena Likhovtseva during their semi-final match of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) in Hanover February 20. PEM//ME
Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic plays a backhand during her second round match against Slovakia's Henrieta Nagyova at the Australian Open in Melbourne January 20. Novotna won in three sets 6-4 2-6 6-3. MDB/CC
Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic hugs the winner's trophy after victory over Nathalie Tauziat of France in the Women's Singles final at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships July 4. Novotna won the match 6-4 7-6 (7-2). KL/JRE
Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic hits a backhand to defending U.S. Open champion Martina Hingis of Switzerland during semi-final U.S. Open play at the USTA National Tennis Center September 11. Hingis is the top seed. Novotna is seeded 3rd. BPS/VM/ME
Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic reaches to return the ball to Amelie Cocheteux of France during U.S. Open second round play at the USTA National Tennis Center September 2. Novotna is seeded third. BPS/SV/KM
Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic prepares to play a backhand return to Switzerland's Martina Hingis during their semi-final match at the Wimbledon tennis championships July 2. Novotna won the match 6-4 6-4. JB/FMS
Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic eyes the ball during her match against Elena Tatarkova of Ukraine in the French tennis Open at Roland Garros stadium May 29. Novotna defeated Tatarkova 6-3 7-6. PW/WS
Second-seed Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic celebrates her win over seventh-seed Mary Pierce of France in their finals match in the Chase Championships of the Corel WTA Tour, at Madison Square Garden in New York, November 23. Novotna beat Pierce 7-6 6-2 6-3 to win the tournament. SPORT TENNIS
Second-seed Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic smiles as she holds the championship trophy after her win over seventh-seed [Mary Pierce of France] in their finals match in the Chase Championships of the Corel WTA Tour at Madison Square Garden in New York, November 23. Novotna beat-Pierce 7-6 6-2 6-3 to win the match and tournament.
Third seed Jana Novotna from the Czech Republic eyes the ball as she makes a return to opponent Mary Joe Fernandez from the United States during their fourth round U.S. Open match, September 1. Novotna defeated Fernandez 7-5 6-4. SPORT TENNIS OPEN
Jana Novotna from the Czech Republic shouts in celebration after winning the Madrid Open tennis on May 24.
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In a career spanning 14 years on the professional circuit that included 24 WTA singles titles and 76 doubles titles, Novotna finally won her only singles grand slam at Wimbledon in 1998 after losing in the final in 1993 and 1997.

She won the hearts of fans around the world when she burst into tears after throwing away victory against Steffi Graf in the 1993 final when on the verge of victory and was consoled afterwards by a British duchess.

"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," WTA Chief Executive Steve Simon said in a statement.

Novotna was a three-time Olympic medalist and a member of Czechoslovakia's 1988 Fed Cup championship team.

"She always supported us from the stands when she could. We will miss her," the Czech Fed Cup team said on its Facebook page. (Reporting by Jason Hovet, Robert Muller and Ian Chadband; Additional reporting by Michael Kahn; Editing by Peter Graff)

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