Britain’s new women’s No1 Johanna Konta hailed “incredible champion” Venus Williams after the seven-time grand slam winner inflicted only her second defeat in 23 matches yesterday.
Konta pushed Williams, 35, all the way with a gutsy display before succumbing 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the quarter-finals of the Wuhan Open in China. It was a rare recent loss for the Australia-born 24-year-old, who is set to overtake Heather Watson and enter the world’s top 50 for the first time when the rankings are updated next week.
“I went on court to win and to do my best,” said Konta, who switched allegiance to Britain in 2012. “I gave my all. It just wasn’t enough. I lost to a pretty incredible champion. She played an incredible match. I just feel very fortunate that I got to share the court with her.”
A tense final game of the match saw Konta earn three break points after Williams lost her cool at the crowd breaking into applause during one absorbing baseline rally. But the five-time Wimbledon champion drew on her experience to reach the semi-finals and praised Konta’s resilience.
“Johanna played so well. She has had a wonderful summer,” she said. “It seemed like I was finished but I felt the energy from the crowd.”
Konta’s breakthrough season has seen her more than double her career prize money to £550,000.