Sport Tennis

Friday 20 October 2017

Venus Williams ends Johanna Konta's Wimbledon journey to make ninth final at SW19

Venus Williams of the U.S. celebrates winning the semi final match against Great Britain’s Johanna Konta. REUTERS/Matthew Childs
Venus Williams of the U.S. celebrates winning the semi final match against Great Britain’s Johanna Konta. REUTERS/Matthew Childs

Tom Allnutt

Johanna Konta's Wimbledon dream went up in smoke as she was beaten in the semi-finals by an inspired Venus Williams.

Konta was hoping to become Britain's first female singles champion in 40 years at SW19 but Williams proved a class above and sealed a 6-4 6-2 victory.

The British number one had two break points at the end of the opening set but failed to capitalise and instead it was Williams who broke the very next game. The American never looked back.

Williams goes through to her ninth singles final at Wimbledon where she will face Spain's Garbine Murguruza on Saturday for the chance to win her eighth grand slam title.

At 37, Williams would be the oldest woman to win a major tournament in the Open era.

Konta looked primed to etch her own name into the history books as the first British woman to reach the final here since Virginia Wade beat Betty Stove to become champion in 1977.

But Konta, playing only her second grand slam semi-final, simply failed to deliver in the crucial moments on Centre Court, where Williams' experience proved decisive.

It means the 26-year-old follows Andy Murray in crashing out before the last hurdle but while Murray is well-versed in the pressures of a home tournament, Konta had won only one match at the All England Club in five prior appearances.

She will climb from seven to five in the world rankings when the computer updates on Monday and four if Muguruza wins the title. Hopes will be high on her preferred hard courts at the US Open next month.

Williams, meanwhile, will be confident of winning her sixth singles Wimbledon crown, nine years after her last here in 2008.

Her battles off-court with Sjogren's syndrome - a condition causing fatigue and pain in the joints - and more recently, the court case surrounding her involvement in a car crash in Florida, make her progress all the more remarkable.

Williams was playing her 22nd grand slam semi-final and the American seemed eager to assert her authority from the outset.

She made Konta wait for the coin toss, tying her shoe laces, swigging her water bottle, then slowly unwrapping her racket before keeping her opponent waiting for the first point, as a bee fluttered around her face as she went to serve.

Titters from the crowd soon turned to gasps when the first blistering exchange of forehands ended with Konta framing into the stands but any early jitters soon faded.

Konta's best chance came at 4-4 as Williams double-faulted then dumped a drive-volley into the net. She had two break points but Williams saved both, the latter with a typically gutsy 106 mile-per-hour second serve.

One moment on the attack, the next on the defence, now it was Konta's turn to feel the heat. Serving to stay in the set, she wafted a backhand wide and shanked a forehand out.

Williams had three set points and she was not so generous, converting the second when a Konta backhand flew long.

The second set was more straightforward but Williams' break owed a little to fortune as a backhand pass cruelly clipped the top of the net.

From there, the result seemed inevitable as Williams broke again at 5-2, this time to win the match, by curling a forehand into the corner.

After an hour and 13 minutes the disappointed Konta could not even bare to wait for her opponent before trudging off into the corner.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport