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Jana Novotna
(October 2, 1968 - living) Czech Republic

Jana Novotna

Tennis player


Born in Brno in the Czech Republic, predominantly a doubles player early on in her career, Novotna began distinguishing herself in singles under the guidance of 4-time Grand Slam champion Hana Mandlikova. In 1991, she broke through by reaching the final of the Australian Open, defeating Steffi Graf and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario before succumbing to no.1 Monica Seles in 3 sets.

Jana NovotnaHer career-defining moment came two years later, in the 1993 Wimbledon final. Following a note-perfect performance, Novotna lead top seeded Graf 6-7, 6-1, 4-1, 40-15. Only moments away from a convincing triumph, she went completely off, missing easy shots, sometimes by phenomenal margins (including an infamous overhead smash that hit the back tarp) to give Graf the final 5 games and the title.

She was left crying on the shoulder of the Dutchess of Kent. For the remainder of her career Novotna carried an unfortunate, and probably undeserved, label of choker. However, the increased pressure on her at Wimbledon led to uninspired losses to Graf in the following couple of years.

It took 4 years for Novotna to reach another Wimbledon final, but after winning the first set easily against Martina Hingis, she succumbed to the Swiss teen's accurate passing shots. She finally had her moment of glory the following year, at age 30.

After routing a young Venus Williams in the quarterfinal, she avenged the previous year's final by ousting Hingis in the semifinal, and completed the feat by angling past another veteran, Frenchwoman Nathalie Tauziat, 6-4, 7-6, in the final.

She retired from professional tennis in 1999. She was known mostly as a fast-court player, with her best results coming on the slick, fast grass courts of Wimbledon.

Despite winning titles on all surfaces, Novotna would forever be identified with Wimbledon, the site of both her greatest failure and biggest triumph.


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