Tennis commentators and observers have joined legends and current players in paying tribute to Jana Novotna, who has passed away at the age of 49.
The Duchess of Kent, who famously consoled the Czech after her loss to Stefanie Graf in the 1993 Wimbledon final, said in a statement: "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."
Journalists also reflected on that famous moment, with The Telegraph's Simon Briggs writing: "Few athletes have touched the hearts of strangers to the extent that Jana Novotna did on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, 24 years ago. Novotna produced one of the defining sporting moments of the 1990s when she stumbled in sight of victory against Steffi Graf, and then dampened the Duchess of Kent’s shoulder with her tears...What a premature end to a wonderful life."
Others praised the way that she played the game.
"It was the essence of Novotna’s appeal that she was no tennis automaton," wrote Christopher Clarey in the New York Times. "She was beautiful to watch in action. She had a smoothly sliced backhand, arched her back deeply before striking a serve, and made frequent forays to her happiest hunting ground at the net. Some played. Novotna flowed."
"She was a fine singles player but a truly great doubles exponent, blessed with a wide array of subtle hand skills that are increasingly hard to find," said Mike Dickson in the Daily Mail.