Jana Novotná (Czech pronunciation: [ˈjana ˈnovotnaː]) (born 2 October 1968 in BrnoCzechoslovakia) is a former professional tennis player from the Czech Republic. She played a serve and volley game, an increasingly rare style of play among women during her career. She won the women's singles title at Wimbledon in 1998 and was runner-up in three previous Grand Slam tournaments. Novotná also won 12 Grand Slam women's doubles titles and four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.

Novotna is still involved heavily in tennis. She is currently coaching WTA pro Marion Bartoli.

Career [edit]Edit

Novotná turned professional in 1986. In the early years of her career, she was known primarily for her success as a doubles player. In the early 1990s, Novotná began to have success in singles once four-time Grand Slam singles champion Hana Mandlíková became her coach.

1990 [edit]Edit

At the 1990 French Open, Novotná achieved her best results in Grand Slam singles play up until that point. Having reached the round of 16, Novotná (seeded 11th) would have to deal with Gabriela Sabatini (seeded 4th) from Argentina. In their four previous meetings, Sabatini got the best of Novotná in three of those matches, including two straight set wins over Novotná. This time proved to be different, as Novotná turned the tables against Sabatini 6–4, 7–5. Although Novotná had disposed of Sabatini, she would have to face yet another difficult opponent in the quarterfinals, Katerina Maleeva (seeded 8th) from Bulgaria. In their two previous meetings Novotná had lost both times, and after Katerina won the opening set, it appeared Jana was about to lose a third consecutive time to Katerina. However, Novotná came back to defeat Maleeva 4–6, 6–2, 6–4. Despite her success, Jana's toughest test by far would be against top seededSteffi Graf of Germany in the semifinals. When Novotná faced Graf three years before at the 1987 French Open, Graf won handily in straight sets. And this time proved no different, as Graf easily defeated Novotná 6–1, 6–2.

1991 [edit]Edit

Novotná enjoyed an excellent start to the 1991 season at the Australian Open. Novotná beat Zina Garrison-Jackson 7–6, 6–4 in the round of 16 to advance on. But the path to the final became considerably more difficult, as Novotná had to contend with top seeded Graf in a quarterfinal encounter. In ten previous meetings, Novotná had lost each time against Graf. But this time Novotná pulled the upset of her life, defeating Graf 5–7, 6–4, 8–6. Now just one win away from her first ever Grand Slam Final, Novotná would have to stop Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the semifinals to get there. Novotná easily defeated Sanchez Vicario 6–2, 6–4, setting up a showdown against Monica Seles in the final. Though Novotná took the opening set 7–5, Seles eventually won by a score of 5–7, 6–3, 6–1.

1993 [edit]Edit

Two years later, at the 1993 Wimbledon Championships, Novotná's game hit full stride, as she produced some of her finest tennis ever. But for Novotná (seeded 8th) to capture the title, her path would have to go thru Sabatini(seeded 4th), Martina Navratilova (seeded 2nd) and top-seeded Steffi Graf. Novotná beat Sabatini in the quarterfinals, Navratilova in the semis, before facing Graf in the Final. Going into her quarterfinal encounter against Sabatini, Novotná had lost six consecutive matches against the Argentine. This time, Novotná took Sabatini apart in straight sets, prevailing 6–4, 6–3. After Novotná got rid of Sabatini, she then set her sights on a semifinal clash against Navartilova, who had won each of their previous five matches. However, Novotná defeated Navartilova 6–4, 6–4, setting up the Championship match against Graf. After losing a tight first set, Novotná took a 6–7, 6–1, 4–1 lead. With victory seemingly in her grasp, she lost her nerve and allowed Graf to climb back into the match. Graf took the next five games and the title. During the prize presentation ceremony, a distraught Novotná burst into tears and cried on Katharine, Duchess of Kent's shoulder. The Duchess comforted her.

1997 [edit]Edit

It took four years for Novotná to reach another Wimbledon final. In 1997, she faced top seeded Martina Hingis, and lost in three sets. But to get back to the final, Jana had to get past Mary Joe Fernandez in the round of 16. After Fernandez won a tight opening set 7–5, Novotná secured the second set 6–4. In a tense 3rd set that would determine who moved on, Jana outlasted Mary Joe 7–5, then defeated Yayuk Basuki of Indonesia 6–3, 6–3 in the quarterfinals. Now back in the semifinals of Wimbledon again, Novotná's next opponent would be the Spaniard Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. Sanchez Vicario had prevailed against Novotná's in 7 of their 9 previous contests, but the majority of those matches were played on clay and hard-courts, Sanchez Vicario's best surfaces. On grass, Novotná had a decided advantage, as she easily defeated Sanchez Vicario 6–4, 6–2. In the Final against Hingis, Novotná started out fast, taking the opening set 6–2. But Hingis found her stroke and won the second set 6–3 to even the match at one set apiece. The final set proved to be a mirror image of the 2nd set, as Martina prevailed 6–3, handing Novotná her second loss in a Wimbledon Championship match. However, Novotná won the 1997 WTA Tour Championships and finished the year ranked a career-high World No. 2 in singles. In addition to winning the year end WTA Championship, Novotná captured three more WTA singles titles for the year.

1998: Wimbledon glory [edit]Edit

Novotná's moment of Wimbledon glory finally arrived in 1998. After defeating Venus Williams in a close quarterfinal, Novotná avenged the previous year's loss by ousting Hingis in a semifinal and veteran Nathalie Tauziat in the final. She became the oldest first-time Grand Slam singles winner in the Open Era at age 29 years and nine months. This record would be eclipsed byFrancesca Schiavone in 2010 when she won the French Open at 29 years and eleven months.

Novotná won 12 Grand Slam women's doubles titles (four at Wimbledon, three at the French Open, three at the US Open, and two at the Australian Open) and four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles (two at the Australian Open, one at Wimbledon, and one at the US Open). She was 11 times the year end top-ranked doubles player.

Novotná was a member of the Czechoslovakian team that won the Fed Cup in 1988. At the Olympic Games, Novotná was a women's doubles silver medalist in 1988 and 1996 and a singles bronze medalist in 1996.

She won titles on all four surfaces and crossed the $10 million mark in career prize money in 1998, the fifth player to reach the milestone. She won more than 500 career singles matches, the 15th woman in the Open Era to accomplish the feat.

Novotná was named the 1998 WTA Tour Doubles Team of the Year with Martina Hingis, the 1997 International Tennis Federation Doubles Team of the Year with Lindsay Davenport, the 1996 WTA Tour Doubles Team of the Year with Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, with Gigi Fernández in 1991 and in 1989 and 1990 with Helena Suková.

Novotná retired from the professional tour in 1999. During her 14-year career, she won 100 titles (24 in singles and 76 in doubles). She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.

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