Britain’s Konta announces retirement


Johanna Konta made her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon, losing to Christina McHale of the United States in the first round

Britain’s former world number four Johanna Konta has announced her retirement from professional tennis.

Konta, 30, reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2017 – the first British woman to achieve the feat in 39 years.

She also made the last four at the 2016 Australian Open and the 2019 French Open, while her best result at the US Open was a quarter-final run in 2019.

She made the announcement on social media, saying she was “grateful” for the career she had had.

“Through my own resilience and through the guidance of others, I got to live my dreams,” she posted. “I got to become what I wanted and said as a child. How incredibly fortunate I count myself to be.”

Born to Hungarian parents in Australia before moving to the UK aged 14, Konta switched allegiance in 2012 and went on to become the most successful British female player of her generation.

In an impressive career, Konta earned a number of accomplishments that no other woman from the nation had achieved for more than 30 years.

As well as her Grand Slam performances and ranking among the world’s best, she also won four titles on the WTA Tour and represented Britain in the Fed Cup.

Konta’s future had been unclear for a little while, having dropped to 113th in the world after struggling for form and fitness.

Since making the quarter-finals for a third successive Grand Slam at the 2019 US Open, where she lost in straight sets to Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina, Konta has won only one match in five majors.

Her last tour match came at the Cincinnati Open in August, when she lost to Czech Karolina Muchova in the first round.

In the past few seasons she has dealt with tendonitis in her right knee, something she said in June she would have to manage for the rest of her career.

Further disruption to her career has been caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Because of the tour being stopped in early 2020, and her doubts about travelling once it resumed in August, Konta was only able to play nine tournaments last season.

This year, Konta showed glimpses of her best form when she won the Nottingham Open – leading to hopes she could have another deep run at Wimbledon in July.

Johanna Konta lifts the Miami Open title in 2017
Johanna Konta won four WTA Tour titles in her career, with the most prestigious coming at Miami in 2017

But more bad luck came her way. She was ruled out of her home Grand Slam on the eve of the tournament because one of her team tested positive for Covid, then contracted the virus herself and was ruled out of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Since then she has only played twice, in Montreal – where she beat third seed Svitolina – and Cincinnati.

She was replaced by Emma Raducanu as British number one on the teenager’s way to winning the US Open in September, with Konta dropping out of the world’s top 100 last month for the first time since 2015.

‘A tremendous inspiration for so many’ – reaction

Anne Keothavong, Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup captain: “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?”

Iain Bates, LTA head of women’s tennis: “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… She leaves a legacy of perseverance, determination and professionalism that will be carried forward by the current and next group of players.”

Greg Rusedski, former British number one: “Well done on a brilliant tennis career. You should be so proud of everything you have achieved.”

Konta’s rise from unknown to British star

2005: Aged 14, Konta moves to Britain when her family settles in the south-coast town of Eastbourne.

2012: Switches allegiance to Britain when ranked outside the top 200 and makes Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon.

2015: Ranked 97th in the world and without a Grand Slam main-draw win, makes a surprise run to the US Open last 16.

2016: Goes even further at the Australian Open, becoming the first British woman for 33 years to reach a major semi-final.

Wins her first WTA title in July and climbs into the world’s top 10 in October, providing a British presence there for the first time since Jo Durie in 1984.

2017: Starts the season by winning her second WTA title – without dropping a set – in Sydney.

Claims the biggest title of her career when she becomes the first British woman to win the Miami Open.

Becomes the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals since 1978, propelling her to fourth in the world rankings.

2018: Hires Maria Sharapova’s former coach Michael Joyce at the start of the season, but the partnership does not click as she slips out of the world’s top 20.

Shows signs of tension by saying “the media doesn’t make it easy” for her at May’s French Open and has a row with the umpire during June’s Nottingham Open final.

Loses in the second round at Wimbledon and, following a first-round defeat at the US Open, drops outside the world’s top 40.

2019: Helps Great Britain end a 26-year wait for Fed Cup promotion in April, winning both her singles matches in the play-off victory against Kazakhstan.

Heads into the European clay-court swing ranked 45th in the world, but reaches the Morocco Open and Italian Open finals under recently appointed coach Dimitri Zavialoff.

Makes a remarkable run to the French Open semi-finals, having never previously won a main-draw match at Roland Garros. But tension gets the better of her in a straight-set defeat by Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova.

Another fine run at Wimbledon ends in a quarter-final defeat by unseeded Barbora Strycova, leading to frustration at “disrespectful and patronising” questioning from a reporter.

2020: Starts the year with three straight defeats in Brisbane, Melbourne and St Petersburg, but reaches the Monterrey semi-finals in the last event before the coronavirus pandemic stops the WTA Tour.

When the season resumes in August, she reaches the Cincinnati semi-finals but loses in the US Open second round and earns just two more wins that year.

2021: Wins just three matches in the first six months of the season – suffering first-round exits at the Australian Open and French Open – then wins the Nottingham title in June.

Pulls out of Wimbledon and the Olympics in the summer before announcing her retirement.

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