Serena Williams Pays Tribute To Jana Novotna On 20th Anniversary Of Wimbledon Win
The former world No.1 speaks about the loss of a player who attracted a mass following at The All England Club.
Multiple grand slam champion Serena Williams has said that she was ‘devastated’ to find out about the death of Jana Novotna.
Last November Novotna passed away at the age of 49 following a battle with cancer. The Czech won 100 WTA titles during her career, including 24 in singles competition. In 1997 she reached a ranking high of second in the world. This year is the 20th anniversary of Novotna’s only grand slam triumph at the 1998 Wimbledon Championships. Where she defeated France’s Nathalie Tauziat in the final.
“It’s incredibly sad and heartbreaking for not just the tennis world, but for just the world.” Williams said of Novotna’s death following her fourth round win at Wimbledon.
“She was so sweet. Every year in the locker room she was always there every single match just talking to me, telling me, Congratulations. We just would chat.”
Like many others, Williams was unaware that Novotna was sick prior to her passing. She retired from tennis in 1999 and went on to comment on the sport and coach younger players. Including Barbora Krejčíková who won this year’s French Open doubles title alongside Kateřina Siniaková.
“I was devastated to hear about that. I actually never knew she was battling with cancer.” The 36-year-old said. “She’s definitely missed for me because usually after the matches, I see her there. But I know that her legacy and legend will live on. She did a lot for tennis. I feel honoured that I had a chance to get to know her.”
At Wimbledon, Novotna is remembered for another reason. In 1993 she won over million of hearts when she cried on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent following her loss to Steffi Graf in the final. Resulting in the two becoming ‘firm friends.’
“I just remember from the far side of the net, her face crumpled. It’s the natural thing isn’t it. You have built yourself up for this. You play the Wimbledon finals and you didn’t make it,” the Duchess told HELLO magazine earlier this month.
Williams, who played Novotna once on the tour back in 1998, will take on Julia Goerges in the semi-finals at Wimbledon on Thursday.