Konta teaching history at Wimbledon with another victory
LONDON (AP) — With every victory at Wimbledon this week, Johanna Konta is teaching the British public more and more about its tennis history.
Tuesday’s lesson involved Virginia Wade, the previous British woman to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon. Not too coincidentally, Wade was sitting in the Royal Box watching as Konta beat Simona Halep 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-4 to match that feat.
“I guess to be in the semifinals of my home Slam, and to do that in front of a full Centre Court, I mean, it’s pretty, pretty special,” Konta said.
The sixth-seeded Konta was the first British woman to reach the quarterfinals at the All England Club since Jo Durie in 1984. She is now the first since Wade in 1978 to reach the semifinals.
Wade made the final that year, but lost to Chris Evert. Wade won the title a year earlier, however.
“I’m just surprised it’s taken so long,” Wade said. “It’s fine to be the last British women’s winner to win Wimbledon, but it’s better to have plenty of British players to win. It’s a win-win situation, frankly, and I’m thrilled for her.”
Konta will next face Venus Williams on Thursday for a spot in the final. Williams is a five-time Wimbledon champion who is playing in the semifinals at the All England Club for the 10th time in her 20th appearance.
Konta has won three of her five previous matches against Williams, but the American took the last one on clay at the Italian Open in May.
At the Australian Open last year, Konta reached her only pervious major semifinal, beating Williams in the first round.
“We’ve had a few battles in the past,” Konta said. “She’s got the better of me the last time we played, so I’m really looking forward to playing her.”
One thing Konta will be able to rely on again in the semifinals will be another enthusiastic home crowd. On Tuesday, that enthusiasm led to a bizarre moment on match point when someone screamed and appeared to distract Halep.
“I think it’s a part of sport, the crowd getting excited and getting sometimes a little too involved,” Konta said. “I think we experienced it a couple of times in the match. All of us players have experienced that throughout our careers.”
On Thursday, back on Centre Court, Konta will get to experience it all over again.
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