Jana Navotna

As I open my front door I am glad to see that the noises I am hearing is just the rustling of the leaves and not of rain pouring down. The cold and the wind is fine, but getting drenched is not. Today I need to get to central London once again to help a friend who needs some cover for her list. The air is actually warm for this time of the year and it is not too windy either. As I near the station I can hear some fast footsteps. A lady is running to catch the tube. I check the time. I only have two minutes to be there myself. I quicken my steps and get there with a minute to spare.

Soon I am settling into my seat and catching up with the news. Two stories have caught my eye this week. Of course there is the Zimbabwean situation being played out but it looks like it is getting under control. The tyrant has finally stepped down. The news I am interested in is the deaths of Charles Manson and Jana Navotna. Two names which shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath.

I read about the Sharon Tate murder in the Time magazine when I was a child. A pregnant actress being murdered by women who were about the same age or younger than her along with Manson was an image that I haven’t been able to shake off even after almost 50 years. Manson has finally met his maker.

Jana Navotna’s defeat by Steffi Graf in 1993 followed by her subsequent victory 5 years later, were matches I used to follow avidly in those days. Wimbledon finals weekend was a time I used to always look forward to. All the work was cleared and come midday the only place to be was in front of the telly. Jana was labelled a choker after her defeat in 1993, a match she was leading but let slip away. She did not let this deter her. She learnt from her mistakes and proved that she was anything but when she went on to win the title 5 years later. According to a news item today, when asked at an interview her reply was, “we all fail in this world, whether we play sport or not, the real question is, How do you deal with it?” We can all surely learn from this and not let setbacks get in the way and bring us down. She was only 49 when she lost her life earlier this week to cancer.

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