Jana Novotna, Tennis Player, Wimbledon Champion 1998
1968 - 2017
It was the ultimate tennis fairytale and the happy tears shared with a royal friend that we all wanted to see. When Jana Novotna won Wimbledon in 1998, it was the joyful ending to a sporting story with a duchess at its heart. As we mourn the passing of a tennis great, let's remember those happy tears.
Jana Novotna's win at Wimbledon was one of the all time great moments on that famous Centre Court. Just five years earlier, she had broken down at the same spot after losing the 1993 Women's Singles Final to Steffi Graf after taking a seemingly unassailable lead. She couldn't hold back her tears and the Duchess of Kent, who at that time always presented the trophies on the final Saturday, threw an arm round her and let her weep on her shoulder. It was a moving sight and one that went down in sporting legend. The duchess told Novotna that she would win it. When she lost again in 1997, to Martina Hingis, there were no tears but more advice from the duchess who this time said another final appearance would be ''third time lucky''. And she was right.
In 1998 her moment came. She beat Natalie Tauziat of France to claim the trophy she wanted more than any other while millions got to see the fairytale ending they had dreamed of ever since the tears of 1993. She walked forward to accept the famous Venus Rosewater Dish from the Duchess of Kent and this time the tears were of pure joy.
Jana Novotna died on November 19th 2017 at the age of 49 from cancer. The Chief Executive of the WTA, Steve Simon, described her as ''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''. The magic that she brought, both on and off court, will always be remembered at Wimbledon where her love of the game and her passion for the tournament produced tears, both sad and happy, that turned into a royal legend.
Photo credit: WTA Twitter