FORMER Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna has died at the age of 49.
Novotna, a former world number one in doubles and number two in singles, passed away peacefully on Sunday surrounded by her family, the WTA announced.
A statement read: "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."
Novotna won the Wimbledon women's singles title in 1998 and was beaten by Steffi Graf in the 1993 final.
She captured the hearts of fans when she burst into tears after losing to German great Steffi Graf in 1993 and was consoled by the Duchess of Kent.
Novotna started crying when presented with the loser's trophy before the Duchess of Kent put a comforting arm around her and gave her a shoulder to shed her tears on during emotional scenes on Centre Court.
Novotna said the Duchess had told her "she would do it" when she went to collect her trophy. Despite losing to Martina Hingis in 1997, she finally won Wimbledon a year later.
In doing so, she became the oldest first-time Grand Slam singles winner in the Open era at 29 years and nine months.