Celebrating the fantastic tennis career of Johanna Konta
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Following the announcement today of her retirement from the professional game, we celebrate the career of Johanna Konta, one of the most successful British players during the modern era...
Born in Sydney, Konta moved to the UK at the age of 14 settling with her family on the sunny south coast of Eastbourne. She turned professional in 2008 and two years later was knocking on the door of the world’s Top 250. In 2012, Johanna started receiving LTA support, the same year she became a British citizen and after qualifying for the US Open, vaulted into the Top 150.
She answered her first call to join the Billie Jean Cup (then Federation Cup) team in 2013 playing doubles alongside Laura Robson to become British Colour Holder number 292, in a tie against Bosnia & Herzegovina, and went on to represent Great Britain 24 times in the event.
Breaking through on the world stage
Konta had long shown promise, but it was a break-out second half of 2015 rising a hundred places in the rankings, when she first served notice of belonging on the biggest stages. That October, she assumed the mantel of British No.1 for the first time, a position she would hold for just shy of six straight years, thus beginning a run of records not seen since the days of Virginia Wade in British women’s tennis.
In January the following year she reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open, becoming the first British female to make that stage of a major since Wade at Wimbledon 1978. In July 2016 she captured her first Tour level title at Stanford in the United States defeating Venus Williams in a three-set final. That was the best tournament victory by a female Brit since Jo Durie won in Sydney, 33 years earlier. Konta also represented Great Britain at the Rio Olympic Games that summer, reaching the quarter-finals.
After finishing runner up in the China Open during October, she became the first British woman to be ranked in the world top 10 since Durie in August 1984. This would also mark the first time ever in rankings history that Britain had a man (Andy Murray) and a woman inside the Top 10 at the same time.
Reaching a career high of world no.4
In 2017 the Eastbourne resident continued her rise with her second WTA title at Sydney in January and soon after won the biggest tournament of her career at the Miami Open in April, successively defeating Simona Halep, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki on her way to the winner’s prize. This form propelled her onto a memorable run to the last four at Wimbledon, the first home female player to do that since Wade’s centenary win in 1977, taking her to a career-high of No.4 in the world.
The following year, Johanna secured an historic win over Serena Williams in San Jose, handing Williams the heaviest defeat of her career, losing 61 60 in 51 minutes. Konta won the last 12 games of the match without reply to secure what would be one of 10 wins over current or former world No.1 players.
In 2019 Konta showed her best form on clay and at the majors. Having never before won a main draw match at the French Open, went on a charge to the semifinal at Roland Garros, the best since Durie’s feat in 1983. This was off the back of a strong clay court swing that saw her finish runner-up at both the Estoril and Italian Opens.
Johanna rounded out her year reaching the quarter-finals of the US Open to become the only WTA player that season to reach the last eight or better at the year’s final three majors.
Champion on the grass at Nottingham
In 2021, Konta won her fourth WTA singles title at the Viking Open in Nottingham, becoming the first British woman to win a Tour event on home soil since Sue Barker did so at Brighton 1981. She completed 5 years and 11 months consecutively as British number one, the longest period any individual has held that achievement since the start of the WTA rankings in November 1975.
In her career she demonstrated her versatility on all surfaces by reaching the quarterfinals or better at all major tournaments including the Olympic Games. Her three different major semi-finals and reaching the last eight club at all four is a feat that can only be matched by one woman (Karolina Pliskova) in the WTA’s current Top 10 rankings, and just 11 in the current Top 100: Pliskova, Pavlyuchenkova, Svitolina, Kerber, Kvitova, Halep, Azarenka, S.Williams, Keys, Stephens and Zvonareva.
'A tremendous inspiration'
Scott Lloyd, Chief Executive of the LTA, said: “On behalf of the LTA and everyone involved in British Tennis I want to express my appreciation to Johanna for her hugely impressive career. To reach the semifinals of three slams and spend more time as British number one than any other woman since the WTA rankings began, shows the level of her achievements. We wish her well in the future, and hope that she will continue to play a role in British tennis in the years to come.”
Iain Bates, LTA Head of Women’s Tennis, said: “Johanna is a tremendous inspiration for so many in British Tennis and everyone at the LTA and involved in the sport is immensely proud of what she has achieved. It has been a great privilege for me personally to watch her evolve into the player she became. She leaves a legacy of perseverance, determination and professionalism that will be carried forward by the current and next group of players.”
Great Britain Billie Jean King Cup Captain Anne Keothavong added, “What Johanna accomplished on the court was incredible, but her professional aptitude is what set her apart. As a Billie Jean King Cup player representing her country, she laid it all out there, led by example and who can forget her marathon performances in 2019 during our first home ties in more than quarter of a century. More than anything she is a kind and caring person, and we wish her all the best in the next chapter of her life.”
A final word from Johanna...