Fresh off her breakthrough 2021 season, Barbora Krejcikova sent her heartiest congratulations to fellow French Open champion Ana Ivanovic after the former No. 1 received the Jana Novotna Award at this week’s BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open.

Named for Krejcikova’s late coach and 1998 Wimbledon champion, the award celebrates players “who show special affinity for and commitment to the WTA 250 event,” according to the WTA website.

Ivanovic officially won the award in 2020 but couldn’t accept it due to the tournament’s COVID-19 cancellation. The Serbian star, who retired from tennis in 2016, was instead honored alongside 2021 winner Julia Goerges, who announced her own retirement at the end of last season.

“As an athlete, it means a lot to me to be awarded with such a prize,” Ivanovic wrote on Twitter. “It shows that I did the right thing, by always fighting for my goals.”


For Krejcikova, the award surely carries special significance given Novotna’s support and mentorship through the early part of her career. Novotna sadly passed away in 2017 after a battle with cancer, and Krejcikova frequently references Novotna as integral to her development into a Grand Slam champion in both singles and doubles.

“When I went there for the very first time I was nervous because she was such an amazing person, such a big tennis player, big athlete and everything,” she recalled of her first meeting with Novotna after winning Roland Garros in June. “She was always just very nice, very warm. She wasn't acting like she won so many titles, that she's somebody special. She's always acting like a normal person.

“This is something I really appreciate about her. There was something that was actually guiding me to be actually the same. Winning this Grand Slam titles in doubles, now in singles, but still be the same. She always told me like, ‘It doesn't matter how many titles you're going to win, you always have to come and say hello, please, and thank you. It's very important to behave very nice.’

“I take all of this and I really appreciate because that's what she was actually doing. She was a great athlete. She was still very humble. She's a big role model. I just want to be same as she was.”

Krejcikova followed up her major singles breakthrough with main-draw debuts at Wimbledon and the US Open, where she reached the fourth round and quarterfinals, respectively.