Jo Konta likes to set goals, personal targets she shares with no-one. So don’t be surprised if she’s already started counting down the 353 days to next year’s Wimbledon.
Konta remains determined to accentuate the positive as she looks ahead with renewed confidence. She admitted she dreamed big ever since she started playing tennis competitively as a nine-year old.
But her hopes of becoming the first British finalist at the All England Club in four decades were ended in a 6-4 6-2 defeat by five-time champion Venus Williams, in front of a Centre Court crowd who arrived more in expectation than hope.
Konta – whose analysis of her game is forensic – will look back on moments that shifted her fate but she insists she won’t look back with regret.
She had two break points at 4-4 in a very finely poised first set and spurned them both – though admittedly a booming 106mph second serve from Williams had something to do with it.
However, a handful of points later and she’d dropped her serve and Williams had snatched the opener, establishing a momentum that she never lost.
That’s often the way against the very best, they give you so few chances that unless you grab them eagerly, the opportunity simply doesn’t roll around again.
“I definitely feel like there’s no reason why I would not be able to be in a position to win a title like this one day,” said Konta, who lost at the same stage of last year’s Australian Open and now moves into the world’s top five.
“I was incredibly happy with the level I was able to produce day in, day out, because it’s a long two weeks. I would have liked to have made it a full fortnight but it’s okay.
“I feel I rose to the challenge but just fell at one of the final hurdles, next time I hope to go further.
“There’s a lot of things that I can still get better at, which is exciting for me and exciting for my team.
“This was only my second Grand Slam semi-final, so she definitely came into the match with a lot more experience than I did. But I felt really comfortable out there, Venus just played better than me.
“This Wimbledon has only strengthened my belief that if I’m ever in a position to play for a Slam that I’ll be in the mental and physical state to deal with it.
“I’ve loved the support, it’s not been added pressure. It’s been so special to see how much people enjoy being a part of my journey.”
The long and fabled history of these Championships is littered with stories rejected as fantasy by Hollywood script writers – and Williams stands on the verge of producing a tale to be told through the ages.
It’s 16 years since she won the first of her five All England Club singles titles and nine years since her last.
When sister Serena, the defending champion, announced her pregnancy earlier this year, most thought it would be a chance for someone new to step up and fill the vacuum.
Instead the name Williams could be on the honours board for the 13th time since the turn of the century, with Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza – beaten in the final by Serena two years ago – her opponent.
In recent years Williams, 37, has usually spent most of the fortnight answering questions about when she may retire, especially following her diagnosis with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease which causes fatigue, muscle and joint pain.
And then there was her involvement in a fatal car crash last month, with police only clearing her of responsibility this week.
“I’m just excited about being in another final because I feel I’ve been knocking on the door for a while,” said Williams, who lost in the final of the Australian Open earlier this year.
“I’ll speak to Serena about her match against her two years ago and hopefully she’ll give me some things that will make a difference.
“I’m really missing her but I try to take the same courage on the court that she would have, I try to do the things she would do.”
Meanwhile, Williams insists Konta’s moment will come – and time is certainly on the 26-year-old’s side.
Virginia Wade, the last British women’s winner here, was 31 when she finally achieved success, having twice lost in the semi-finals and made a first quarter-final appearance ten years previously.
“Johanna has played an amazing tournament,” she said.
“She showed a lot of courage, played in tough situations against players who were in form. I feel like she really wants these majors, she’ll have an opportunity again for sure.”
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