Family and friends of the late Jana Novotna gathered at the J&T Banka Prague Open in early May to celebrate her life - that of a great tennis champion and beloved friend to so many in tennis. Novotna passed away in November at age 49.
At a dinner during the week, Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova stated: "She did not know the word quit, she inspired so many people. And to this day she inspires me, and I think all of us, to strive for more. She always played tennis the way tennis should be played. As great a tennis player as she was, she was an even more special human being."
Navratilova was joined by fellow Hall of Famers Jan Kodes and Helena Sukova, many other Czech tennis leaders, and many of Jana's close friends, including long-time agent Phil de Picciotto of Octagon and WTA President Micky Lawler in remembering the 1998 Wimbedon champion. Younger Czech WTA players including Lucie Hradecka, Iveta Benesova, Klara Koukalova and Lenka Nemeckova also participated in the gatherings, paying respect to one of their national heroines.
Ahead of the J&T Banka Prague Open singles final, a ceremony was hosted on court to present Jana's official Hall of Fame ring to her parents, Libuse Novotna and Frantisek Novotny.
In addition to her exalted 1998 Wimbledon singles title, Novotna etched her place in tennis history with magnificent doubles play, winning 16 of her 17 major titles in doubles competition. She was most successful on the fast grass at Wimbledon, winning the 1989, 1990, 1995, and 1998 titles, and she won the US Open and the French Open titles three times each. Novotna was a passionate representative of the Czech Republic, making the rememberances there particuarly meaningful. She was a member of the Czech Republic's 1988 Championship Fed Cup team. She represented her nation in Olympic competition in 1988, 1992, and 1996. She and Suková won the Silver Medal in doubles in Atlanta and Seoul, and in singles play, Novotná won a Bronze Medal at Atlanta. In recognition of her accomplished career, Novotna recieved tennis' ultimate honor in 2005, when she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.