Jo Konta missed out ending 40 years of home hurt at Wimbledon but pledged to return to win the title. The British sixth seed – hoping to emulate Virginia Wade’s 1977 triumph, was overpowered by Venus Williams who will face Garbine Muguruza bidding for a sixth All England crown.
I think I was in just as much of a shot of winning this tournament here (as Williams). I think today it came down on the day, and Venus played better than me. That's really all I can say Jo Konta
Konta succumbed 6-4 6-2 to the evergreen Williams, 37.
The world No.7 had stepped up in class after an epic series of battling victories getting beyond the second round for the first time.
The 26-year-old said: “I think I was in just as much of a shot of winning this tournament here (as Williams). I think today it came down on the day, and Venus played better than me. That’s really all I can say.
“I definitely have a lot more to improve on. There’s a lot of exciting things that I can still get better at, which is exciting for me and exciting for my team, and my own development. But I definitely feel like there’s no reason why I would not be able to be in a position to win a title like this one day.”
Williams was imperious, belying her years. Her groundstrokes exploited Konta’s weaker wing on the forehand.
Her serve big and accurate with its placement, giving little opportunity for the Brit to get her shots away.
And her bravery was exemplified by a 106mph second serve to save a break point in the ninth game of the first set, three miles an hour quicker than her first. One that made Konta flinch.
A risk-taking quality that makes champions.
Konta said: “She did what she does well. She dictated the match from the very first ball till the very last one. I think she just showed her true qualities and why she’s a five-time champion here, just a true champion that she is.
“It was very difficult for me to get a good foothold in the match. The few opportunities that I did get, she did incredibly well to take them away from me. I don’t think I did too much wrong out there. I think it was all credit to her.”
Williams praised Konta. She said: “Jo played an amazing tournament. She showed a lot of courage, played in tough situations against players who were in form. I feel like she wants these majors, she’ll have an opportunity. She’s played some amazing matches against me, as well. They were all well-contested, and today was, too.”
On the 106mph second serve, she added: “At those points it’s like, Well, the game isn’t over yet, got to still hold serve. I don’t know what to say about that. I just want to win the point. I hope that I can have more of that in the final, honestly.”
The American was happy with her form and hopes to bag the crown once more.
She said: “I’m pleased to be back. I’ve been in a lot of finals. Couldn’t ask for more. One more would be amazing. I’m going to give it my all. The crowd were kind to me. They could have been more boisterous. I know the love Jo. Lots of pressure on her. She handled it well. She played well. No point was easy. I just tried to stay on top of each point
“I’m going to speak to Serena for some pointers for the final. I’m trying to represent us Williams’ I miss Serena (who is pregnant) terribly. I have to do it for myself this time.”
Konta informed us she was “humbled” to get the opportunity of playing a legend in Williams.
It struck a respectful rather than intimidated note. Konta had had a few battles this Wimbledon and was ready with her tin helmet and body armour against the big Williams first serve, wingspan and overall aura.
The combatants went toe-toe. It was about fine margins. Someone had to win it. Neither was prepared to lose it.
Konta surrendered three break points in the tenth game. The Brit had built a reputation for digging herself out of a hole at The Championships. Her mental fortitude and outwardly calm appearance – with an ability to go for it – had got her through the most dramatic of on-court crises against Donna Vekic and second seed Simona Halep on route.
But she was unable to do the spade work as Williams took the second of the three set points, hitting a forehand long.
Konta stuck to her guns in trying to blast out winners – she had gone into the semis with more than anyone at this year’s Championships (166). She had to try.
But it was like fighting fire with a bigger fire that still swells within her 37-year-old opponent. As big as she hit, Williams hit bigger and with greater accuracy.
Konta’s resistance wilted when she hit a double fault to give the American three break points in the fourth game of the second set. The world No.7 saved two of them with a forehand volley and a forehand crosscourt pass which clipped the net. But when she dumped another forehand into the net it was 3-1 to the five-time champion.
Williams continued to serve with power and placement to stretch her advantage.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going, so they say. Konta at least showed enough fight to reduce the arrears in her next service game.
Williams wasn’t going anywhere and forced Konta to serve to save the match. She couldn’t after saving two match points. After 75 minutes the Brit’s odyssey had ended.
Konta said: “It’s been memorable.”