History from across the centuries, Royalty from the 21st

Mon 23rd April, 2018

Duchess of Kent pays tribute to tennis star Jana Novotna who has died

The Duchess of Kent has paid tribute to former tennis star Jana Novotna, who sadly passed away on Sunday, aged 49.  The Czech tennis player had been suffering from cancer.

The Duchess of Kent famously allowed Novotna to cry on her shoulder after she lost the 1993 Wimbledon final to Steffi Graf. As the Duchess presented Novotna with her runner-up trophy, the Czech player dissolved into tears and Katharine embraced her, a moment which created one of tennis’ most iconic pictures.  Although Graf won the Championship, it was the image of Katharine and Jana which dominated the papers in the following days.

Image licensed to i-Images Picture Agency. 14/07/2017. London, United Kingdom. The Duchess of Kent in the Royal box on Men’s semi-final day at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London. Picture by Stephen Lock / i-Images

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Jana Novotna then went on to win the Wimbledon Championship in 1998.

A statement on behalf of the Duchess was released today, on the Royal Family’s official Twitter account, @RoyalFamily. The Duchess 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.”

Katharine is well known for her compassion. In addition to comforting Notovna, she also helped to secure a visa for the mother of another Czech tennis player, Martina Navratilova, when she heard that Navratilova’s family were still living in communist Czechoslovakia and could not travel to Wimbledon to watch her play.

Both The Duke and Duchess of Kent began to present trophies at Wimbledon in 1969; however, Katharine has not presented a trophy since 2001, when she handed the Winner’s Trophy to Venus Williams. The Duchess of Kent, 84, has largely retired from royal life, although her husband still undertakes many engagements on behalf of his cousin, The Queen.

She does occasionally appear at family events, such as Trooping the Colour, or church services for national events, as well as Wimbledon matches.

The Duke is still President of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, and now The Duchess of Cambridge is their patron.

Written by

Olivia is currently studying International Business Management and Spanish at Heriot Watt University. She has always had a keen interest in British history, particularly the Royal Family - Henry VIII and his crazy marital life being a personal favourite. Olivia also loves fashion, which means that The Countess of Wessex and The Duchess of Cambridge feature highly among her favourite royals. Due to a year spent studying in Madrid, Olivia also has an interest in the Spanish Royal Family, especially Queen Letizia

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