'At the end of her life, I had to be there'
Newly-crowned French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova hailed her mentor and former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna who died in 2017, saying: "At the end of her life, I had to be there."
Krejcikova defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 in Saturday's final at the conclusion of only her fifth appearance in a Grand Slam singles main draw.
After the final, the 25-year-old said she owed her success to Novotna who lost her battle with cancer at the age of just 49.
"When I was 18, I actually finished juniors, I didn't really know what to do. I went to her house with my parents. She was always very nice. We just had a really special bond," recalled Krejcikova.
"When I found out that she was sick, and when I found out it's not going to end up really well, I just felt like she was giving me so much of her experience, so much of her power, of her attitude.
"She taught me so many things that I just felt at the end of her life I have to be there. I just have to really support her.
"I wasn't really handling the situation well. My parents were telling me not to go, because they've seen how it's actually ruining me. But I just felt like I have to go and I have to support her."
Novotna won 24 singles titles in her career with the 1998 Wimbledon trophy the highlight.
The new champion said she learned many life and sport lessons from the world number two whose own best run in Paris ended in semi-final losses in 1990 and 1996.
"She told me like, I have a court on Thursday in this club at this time. If you want to come, you can come, we can look at you, have a hit," said Krejcikova.
"I was sick for one month so I don't know if I can actually hold the racquet. She was like, It doesn't matter. If you feel like it, just show up.
"If you cannot hit, we can talk, it's nice. The club is good. You are just going to enjoy."