This week we saw Johanna Konta enter the top 30 in the world after a fine display at the Australian Open. She follows a small but proud list of successes and failures in the British Ladies Tennis’ past. Is this the birth of a new star for Britain? Or will it be same old for fans who are used to seeing their Women exit Grand Slams early?
Johanna Konta is 24, but only started playing for UK in 2012. This was not a selfish decision, but the most obvious, for a girl who was nurtured by the country since she was thirteen. She was born in Sydney to Hungarian parents who moved to Britain in 2004. Though we have seen Brits from other countries, this is a true story of what Britain is today, an immigrants paradise. Last month saw Britain benefit from that title. A first round victory against Venus Williams brought her the attention and adulation of the vociferous British fans, which is what many of their former greats have lived on. She powered all the way through to the Semi Finals, only to fall at the penultimate hurdle against Angelique Kerber. This was momentous enough and thrust her into the spotlight, she had never even been past the first round of Wimbledon before. Konta became the first British woman to make a grand slam semi-final for 32 years.
She follows the likes of Virgina Wade and Sue Barker as the brits who have managed to achieve some level of success on the Women’s side of the game. Both of these women won Grand Slam Titles as well though and Konta could be looking to join them to make a winning threesome. Konta has overtaken two young British girls, whose shoulders the nation had laid their hopes upon. While Laura Robson and Heather Watson have had mild success, neither of them have experienced some thing on this level. Robson was the poster child for the future, but injuries have hampered her career. Heather Watson is as unpredictable as it gets, beating big names one week, and then following it by losing the following week to much lesser opponents.
The British fans have been starved for the last ten years for a woman to cheer on. While making a big effort, the likes of Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong were a constant disappointment. British fans must have thought they would have to get used to it, but Konta is shining a ray of light on the whole scene. If Watson and Robson can quickly follow her, these ladies could become London buses, and all arrive at once.
Konta is singing all the way to the bank too. After her success in Melbourne she surpassed $1m in prize money, and with the British fans taking to her, the endorsements will start rolling in. Her decision to switch nations looks to have paid off. When she arrives at Wimbledon this summer she can expect to be fully supported by everyone present. She has a tough task if she wants to repeat her triumph in Australia, but as everyone should know, British crowds are like having a second player on your side, especially when you winning.