The Duchess of Kent has paid tribute to Jana Novotna, the Wimbledon champion who died over the weekend at the age of 49.
The Czech player is behind one of the most iconic moments in sporting history when after losing her first Wimbledon final, she broke down in tears on the Duchess of Kent’s shoulder.
In a statement, The Duchess 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.”
The Duchess placed a comforting arm around Novotna and wiped away her tears as she was awarded the runners-up trophy, and consoled the tennis player during the emotional scenes on Centre Court.
Later, Novotna told the press that the Katharine said to her “I know you will win it one day, don’t worry” after she lost against Steffi Graf in 1993. A few years, later in 1998, she defeated Nathalie Tauziat to become Wimbledon champion.
The Duchess of Kent has always been known to be one of the most compassionate members of The Royal Family.
In another display of kindness, the Duchess helped Martina Navratilova’s mother get a UK visa. Thia was after she heard the story of how none of Navratilova’s family could watch her win the Wimbledon championship because they could not leave communist Czechoslovakia.
Along with her husband, the Duchess of Kent began handing out trophies to the winners of Wimbledon in 1969. It is a tradition she continued until 2001, well after she retired from royal life. The last person to be awarded a prize from Katherine was Venus Williams who won that year. Her husband, the Duke of Kent, continues to present the prizes at Wimbledon 48 years on and continues to serve as President.