In the second match on semi finals day is five time champion Venus Williams and home favourite Johanna Konta in a match that promises a lot on paper. Higher than expected TV viewers witnessed Johanna Konta’s quarter final in the UK which shows the level of interest in a slam run on the women’s side – something sorely lacking in the past generation.
Konta has been involved in a number of epics this tournament, probably adding to the level of support and interest in her this fortnight. The latest thriller was against Simona Halep in the quarter finals, where she came from a minibreak down in the second set tiebreak to come through in three. She was wasteful on key points early in the match but it has to be said she pulled it out at the right time at the end of the last 2 sets. “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. I think the level of tennis that both of us played today, it was just a tremendous match.” Konta said after her match.
Venus has probably played a number of players intimidated by her resume before even stepping on court but is under no illusions about Konta’s ability to handle expectations. “I’m sure she’s confident and determined. She’s probably dealing with a different kind of pressure playing here at home. But she seems to be handling it well. It looks like she really does well under the pressure. I’ve played her before, so it’s a lot different than today.” Venus said of her opponent. Konta 26 years of age is ancient in comparison to Venus’ last three opponents, all of whom were under the age of 21. The most recent of them was Jelena Ostapenko, who she handled fairly comfortably in the quarter finals. She broke on all three of her break chances in the 6-3 7-5 win and came out on top after going toe to toe with the Latvian’s ultra aggressive game.
Most of the tour speak highly of Venus and Konta is no different in her praise for the 37 year old, who is working wonders at such an age that is very rare on both sides, but more so on the women’s side. “I think what Venus and her sister have given our sport is absolutely tremendous. The way they’ve elevated women’s tennis is truly inspiring. So I feel very excited and very humbled to be sharing the court with her again. We’ve had a few battles in the past. She’s got the better of me the last time we played, so I’m really looking forward to playing her.”
One of those battles was at the Australian Open last year, where Konta won in straights early in the tournament on her way to the semi finals. Konta was already on an upward trajectory at that point but that was one of the key periods for her in her developing into an elite player. She remains incredibly solid and has one of the best second serves on tour, something vital when Venus is ready to whack away weak serves for a return winner. Konta will have the crowd behind her but Venus has seen it all before and won’t wilt under the pressure of a crowd all willing her opponent to victory.
Prediction – Venus Williams in three sets