Steely Johanna Konta vowed to continue her relentless redrafting of British tennis history after serving notice of her intent by overpowering second seed Simona Halep in enthralling fashion to reach the semi-finals of Wimbledon.
World No7 Konta was ice-cool under the roof of Centre Court, battling back from a set down to become the first woman from these shores to make the last four since Virginia Wade in 1978.
With Wade watching from the Royal Box, sixth seed Konta – a semi-finalist at the Australian Open in 2016 – prevailed 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 and will now face five-time champion Venus Williams on Thursday for a place in the final.
“I’ve always believed in my own ability and I’ve always dreamt big,” said Konta. “But I’m much more process orientated, so I don’t give myself too much time to dream. I’m more focused on the work.
“[But] to be in the semi-finals of my home slam, and to do that in front of a full Centre Court is pretty, pretty special. I’ve dreamed of success in every slam but it makes it more special because it is at home. It makes it that much sweeter.”
Konta has won three of her five previous meetings with Williams, although the 37-year-old proved too strong during their last showdown on the clay of Rome in the Italian Open in May.
“What Venus and her sister have given our sport is absolutely tremendous,” added Konta. “The way they’ve elevated women’s tennis is truly inspiring. So I feel very excited and very humbled to be sharing the court with her again.
“We’ve had a few battles in the past. She’s got the better of me the last time we played, so I’m really looking forward to playing her.
“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 matches. I’ll be using all that experience come Thursday.”
Halep represented a major step in class from Konta’s previous opponents in the competition; victory would have handed the 25-year-old the world No1 spot in next week’s updated rankings.
As it is, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic will take over the mantle from Germany’s Angelique Kerber, while Konta is set to burst into the top five, although by then she could be the proud owner of a grand slam title.
Halep sealed the first set on a tie-break before roles were reversed in the second set, but only after Konta had allowed her rival to wriggle off the hook by twice failing to convert break points.
A break of serve in the fifth game of the deciding set handed Konta the initiative and she refused to relinquish her grip, which at times appeared loose, on this captivating contest.
Williams secured her semi-final berth with a straight-sets victory over French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, while Magdalena Rybarikova and Garbine Muguruza will contest the other last-four tussle after dispatching American Coco Vandeweghe and seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova respectively.
Former World No1 Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, won his delayed last-16 tie against Adrian Mannarino 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.