London News & Search
Johanna Konta says she can significantly improve her game despite reaching the Wimbledon semi-final and fourth in the world rankings.
The 26-year-old British number one is taking a short break before preparing for the US Open in August.
“I’ve got a massive amount of room to grow in all areas of my game to be quite honest,” she told BBC Sport.
Australia-born Konta said she is proud to represent Great Britain after her nationality was questioned.
‘Leaving no stone unturned’
Konta became the first British woman since Virginia Wade 39 years earlier to reach the Wimbledon last four.
But she is determined to make further progress towards her goals of becoming world number one and winning Grand Slams.
“I know there’s a lot of work to be done between now and achieving such things,” she said.
“I definitely feel I can physically improve. I’d like to get stronger, move even better on the court – maximise my movement.”
Konta, who was ranked 150 at the start of 2015, often speaks of the mental “process” she relies upon during her rise up the rankings and believes experience will improve her tactical game.
“I’m constantly looking to be more mentally strong and technically sound. I’m trying to leave no stone unturned,” she said.
‘This is the place I miss when I’m away’
Konta said she was proud to represent Great Britain after her nationality was questioned by BBC presenter John Humphrys on Radio 4’s Today programme.
The veteran interviewer said: “We talk about you as being British, but you were born in Hungary, Australian citizenship, and I seem to remember that the Australian high commissioner, when you won the quarter-final, said: ‘Great to see an Aussie win’, and we were saying: ‘Great to see a Brit win’ – so, what are you?”
She laughed before replying: “I was actually born in Australia to Hungarian parents, but I have lived half my life here now, almost. So, I’m a British citizen, and I’m incredibly proud to represent Great Britain. I have done so officially since 2012.”
Konta, who came to the UK aged 14, later told BBC Sport of her bond with Britain.
“This is my home, where I consider to be from and where I come back to. This is the place I miss when I am away,” she said.
“People are entitled to their opinion, but this is the only place I’ve truly represented and will continue to do so.
“I’m a British citizen and representing Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics was one of the proudest moments of my career.”
Some newspaper reports during Wimbledon referenced the fact that five years ago Konta did not know the words to the national anthem.
“Seeing as I’ve sung the national anthem at both the Olympics and many Fed Cup ties, I do know the words to my national anthem, yes,” she said.
Wimbledon defeat and greater analysis
Konta reached the Wimbledon semi-finals with a thrilling defeat of Romanian second seed Simona Halep which was watched by a peak of 7.4 million viewers, the BBC’s best TV figures for the 2017 tournament.
“It’s a massive compliment and a brilliant thing for tennis. It’s great that so many people got invested and involved in my match and were living the moment with me,” she said.
“I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve been recognised on the street more but it’s always positive. People have only said good things and congratulated me on my run and said I’ve inspired them or their children.”
She went out with a 6-4 6-2 defeat by five-time champion Venus Williams.
“I digested the match quite quickly and understood the things I could have done better, and acknowledge how well she played,” said Konta.
A higher profile has led to greater analysis of Konta by tennis pundits – but she tries to keep her focus.
“I employ the team around me to bring the most out of myself, and leave it to them to listen to lot of external things,” she said.
“I limit the amount I open my ears to because it can be a little bit overwhelming and confusing. Within my career, the simpler I’ve kept it, the better. I don’t listen too much to what’s going on outside.”
Muffins, music and films
Away from the court, Konta has been enjoying her new-found love of baking, although admits it brought her to tears during Wimbledon.
“It was very random, I forgot to buy some chocolate chips (for muffins) in the supermarket and I only realised when I got home. I think I was a bit tired that day,” she said.
“I’m a massive fan of food. I like exploring new restaurants and cuisines. I’ve only just started baking so the only thing I can make is muffins – I’ve been making blueberry ones, chocolate and banana, white chocolate and raspberry.”
She also lists live music and the cinema as two other interests in her downtime.
“I’m going to see U2 soon and I’m very excited about that, and then I’m going to see Celine Dion with my mum,” she said.
Managing the schedule
Konta is next due on court at the Rogers Cup, which starts in Toronto on 7 August, having chosen not to defend her title at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California.
Another tilt at a Grand Slam title will begin on 28 August at the US Open, where Konta has reached the fourth round for the past two years.
“I only finished Wimbledon on Thursday and haven’t played since. I’m resting for the rest of this week and start training again on Monday. This is the only chance in the year when I can take more than two or three days off at one time,” she said.
“We play a lot of tennis in the season and the season is very long. So to be able to find those moments where you can remove yourself from it and take care of your body goes towards ensuring the longevity and you being able to play many years.
“I need to remind myself to do that because I am a bit of a busybody. I like lists and ticking things off lists, so I need to make sure I do chill out and relax and try to get a day on the sofa here and there.”
Longer term she hopes to play again for Britain in the Fed Cup team event after this year’s controversy which led to Romania captain Ilie Nastase being suspended by the International Tennis Federation after swearing at the umpire and abusing Konta and her captain Anne Keothavong.
“It is not something that anyone should experience. It’s not something I think about or look to revisit. My life has moved on from it,” she said.
“One of the biggest honours you get as an athlete is to represent your country, especially in a team event. I would definitely love to keep participating.”
London News & Search