Duchess of Kent hails 'courageous' Jana Novotna following death from cancer

The Duchess of Kent, who famously comforted Jana Novotna after she lost the 1993 Wimbledon final, has paid tribute to the Czech tennis star.

The Duchess said she was saddened to hear of Novotna's death and that she was a "brave, courageous sweet lady with a wonderful sense of humour".

Novotna came to the attention of the British public when she featured in one of the most enduring images in the long history of Wimbledon as she was consoled by the Duchess after losing the 1993 final to Steffi Graf, having led the last set 4-1.

The Duchess, who is married to the Queen's cousin the Duke of Kent, said: "Jana Novotna was a brave, courageous sweet lady with a wonderful sense of humour.

"I am very saddened by the news of her death and all my feelings are with her family.

"Wimbledon will not be the same without her."

Jana Novotna File Photo
Jana Novotna File Photo

Novotna, who went on to win the 1998 Wimbledon singles title, lost her battle with cancer on Sunday aged 49.

She overcame another final defeat in 1997, this time to Martina Hingis, and finally got her hands on the trophy in 1998, beating Frenchwoman Nathalie Tauziat.

She was the world number one ranked player in doubles in 1990 and got as high as number two in the singles in 1997.

The Duchess, who is now 84 and prefers to be known as Katharine Kent, used to hand out the trophies at the Wimbledon finals before she retired from public life.

She gave up her HRH title and worked for many years away from the spotlight as a music teacher.

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