Johanna Konta: I'm ready for Wimbledon battle with Venus Williams

Eastbourne's Johanna Konta insists she has all the required experience to beat Venus Williams and reach her first Wimbledon final.

Thursday, 13th July 2017, 10:59 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 4:24 am
Johanna Konta in action on centre court at Devonshire Park

Konta reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open last year, after knocking out Williams in round one, but her second appearance in the last four of a grand slam will have a rather different feel.

She is the last Briton standing in the singles after Andy Murray’s surprise defeat on Wednesday and hopes are high that she can become the first British woman to win Wimbledon since Virginia Wade in 1977.

Williams, meanwhile, will be playing her 22nd grand slam semi-final, her first coming at the US Open 20 years ago when Konta had just turned six.

It means Konta will be left to draw on the fortitude that has got her through a trio of three-setters already at this tournament, not to mention three WTA finals, the first of which saw her beat Williams to claim her maiden title in Stanford last year.

“I’d like to think actually that all the matches I played - I know this will be my second slam semi-final - but I do think nerves and excitement and those sorts of emotions that come along with big matches aren’t necessarily specific to grand slam moments,” Konta said.

“I’ve been a part of some great moments and exciting moments in other events as well. I’d like to think that I’ll be using all that experience come Thursday.”

Williams was one of Konta’s idols growing up and the 37-year-old is enjoying something of an Indian summer in her already-glittering career.

After four relatively barren years dealing with the effects of Sjogren’s syndrome - a disorder causing fatigue and pain in the joints - Williams has now made the last 16 of six consecutive major tournaments.

She has won seven grand slams, five at Wimbledon, and is bidding to become the oldest female to reach the final since Martina Navratilova in 1994.

“I definitely think experience helps, for sure,” Williams said.

“For a lot of the players I’ve played, it’s their first time in the third round or the quarter-finals.

“So I have an opportunity to bank on experience in having dealt with those sort of pressures before.”

It is 40 years since Wade defeated Betty Stove in the Wimbledon final and received the Venus Rosewater Dish from the Queen in the year of her Silver Jubilee.

If Konta gets through, she will face either Spain’s Garbine Muguruza or the tournament’s surprise Magdalena Rybarikova for the title on Saturday.

“I honestly feel she’s got as good a chance as anybody,” Wade told Press Association Sport.

“Muguruza is perfectly capable of winning anything that she enters, Venus has got a tremendous record, Rybarikova plays the perfect game for grass.

“They’ve all been coming under the radar because all the attention’s been on Jo, which she’s handled well, but certainly Venus and Muguruza can win the tournament too.”