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Konta: My 2016 highlights

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Originally published on 23/11/16 00:00

Talking at a retailer event organised by ASICS for whom she is a brand ambassador, Konta, who began the year ranked No.47 and finished with her first WTA title under her belt and inside the world's top 10, said she was looking forward to spending time with her family, who help her to soak up her achievement.

“My parents sometimes drop it into conversation randomly and I’m, like No. 10 –yeah," said Konta, who became the British first woman since Jo Durie in 1983 to reach the semi-final of a Grand Slam at the Australian Open.

Konta had a busy start to the year, reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open, beating Venus Williams in the first round. Her season ended in Singapore, where by virtue of her ranking, she attended the WTA season-ending finals as an alternate. Had one of the world’s top eight players dropped out she would have had the opportunity to play.

Speaking in London on what she referred to as the fourth day of her “holiday”, the 25-year old said she would celebrate Christmas at home in Eastbourne.

“By the time I get to the end of my holiday it will feel like I want to start training again,” she said, “but right now, I’m like ‘this is not enough time,’ so right now I am de-stressing."

Konta’s year has been full of experiences from which she says she has learned much. She could not pick out one highlight, but managed to narrow it down to three.

"One of them was actually being at Wimbledon, and so although I lost the match on Centre Court against Genie [Bouchard] it was a high-quality match and it was a great atmosphere, something that felt really special to be part of," she said. Konta, who in two previous years had not won a match at Wimbledon, lost in the second round to the 2014 finalist. 

Her second highlight was playing at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro: “I remember before going to the Olympics everyone would tell me, it’s nothing like any other event on tour, it's completely different and so I was really excited but also quite apprehensive, thinking, what is it going to be like? Honestly that was kind of life-changing, just to be surrounded by those athletes and the whole enormity of it. It was pretty special.”

Konta got to the quarter-finals where she was defeated by eventual silver medallist Angelique Kerber. ”I felt really really proud,” she said of representing Great Britain. Playing for her nation is something she takes very seriously. “Although I do play for myself,” she said referring to life on tour, "every time I step out on court I am representing Great Britain."

Konta says the third high point of her year came in October in Beijing, where she beat Madison Keys in a tight three-set match in the semi-finals to break into the top 10.

“That felt quite monumental,” she said, “I had already been really close to cracking Top 10, there were a couple of matches previously that I had played that if I’d won I would have done it."

Konta is only the fourth British woman to reach the top 10. Only Virginia Wade (former World No.3), Sue Barker (No.2) have been ranked higher.

“If I ever am in a position to be that high, and that’s not just from a British perspective but also international, that would be pretty spectacular,” she said of matching Wade and Barker. “I certainly don't take anything I have achieved so far for granted and I am very grateful.

"This season for me has been spectacular for me just in terms of the amount of experiences that I was able to accumulate in quite a short space of time. I am very grateful for that and I just want to stay healthy when I play as much as I can and keep enjoying doing what I am doing."

She posted a tweet recording her gratitude for 2106. “I felt really emotional – it was an emotional tweet,” Konta said. "It has been a year that has been full of so many things and I always talk about how honestly, truly humbled I am by the opportunities that I get. I think I stay very realistic and very real – not everyone gets this chance so I think really appreciate that and just said thank you to the year.”

 

After a holiday trip to Rome and Hungary, Konta will start training and then on December 28 she will fly to China to start her 2017 season in Shenzhen. For now though the World No.10 is looking forward to some time at home.

“When I am home I try and spend as much time as possible with my family but also the friends that I have here,” she said. “I try. “But it’s not always easy because you get home and I am usually exhausted. So I tend to be a hermit.”

Johanna Konta is an ambassador for ASICS. Tennishead spoke to her at Queen’s Club, London, in November, courtesy of ASICS

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