Johanna Konta may be very complimentary about those who have helped her during her rise to the top, but the Brit is very clear that her success is her own.
Now a two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist, firmly ensconced in the world’s top ten and looking good for a place at the WTA Finals at the end of the year, Konta’s rise has been rapid.
Mind coach Juan Coto and technical coach Esteban Carril were credited with her climb up the rankings in the last two years, but when Coto passed away at the end of last year and Konta dispensed with Carril’s services, many thought her progress may start to plateau.
What followed was a tournament win in Sydney at the start of 2017, a run to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and the biggest win of her career at the Miami Open.
Not even a poor clay court season – never her strongest surface – could derail her progress as she made the final on grass in Nottingham and beat world number one Angelique Kerber at her home tournament in Eastbourne before withdrawing from the semi-final with a back injury.
She entered Wimbledon with a cloud over her fitness similar to that hanging over compatriot Andy Murray, but while the Scot’s hip injury has been an ever-present problem throughout his SW19 campaign, Konta has appeared to be in full flight during her tortuous route to the final four.
And having broken not only new ground for herself, but also made history for British women’s tennis in getting to the semi-final, she is rightfully proud of her achievements.
Although she is not ungrateful to the help given to her before Coto’s untimely death.
“I’d like to think that my success is my own, and it’s actually something that Juan said as well,” said the 26-year-old.
“The work, I do the work. I bear the consequences of everything that I do, the wins and the losses. I truly believe that I’ve been very fortunate with the people that I’ve been surrounded by. But my success is my own.
“Juan was a tremendous influence on me. That went beyond my tennis career. He was someone who approached his work with me in a very holistic manner.
“It was more about me as a human being than necessarily a tennis player. I think he did a tremendous job with me in working on my happiness as a person, as a human being, as dealing with life in general.
“In turn, he looked to help me enjoy something that I’ve loved since I was a little girl, and to try to be the best at that.”
Konta faces Venus Williams second on Centre Court on today, safe in the knowledge that her opponent has been there and done it all before.
Five times a champion at Wimbledon, Williams has racked up 100 singles matches in SW19, whereas Konta’s total will tally just 12 after Thursday.
And while the Brit does not attest to having idolised Williams as an aspiring professional, she does have a great respect for the player she has beaten in three of their previous five meetings – none of which have been on Williams’ favoured grass.
“As I’ve gotten older and actually played against her, played against my fellow competitors, I actually have more and more respect for and more and more awareness for their achievements and for what they’ve done for the sport,” added Konta.
“It’s actually more now that I fully understand the weight of what Venus and her sister have given our sport. I think my appreciation for them I guess gets bigger now.”
Murray himself is aware of the huge pressure Konta will be under when she takes to the court on Thursday, and despite his exit he will still be cheering on from home.
“If she keeps playing like that [as she did in her quarter-final], there’s no reason why she can’t do it. Hopefully she goes on to win,” he said.
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