LONDON — When she looks back at her career, Johanna Konta hopes that this year’s Wimbledon tournament won’t be the highlight.

Konta, who was trying to become the first British woman to win the Wimbledon title since Virginia Wade in 1977, lost to five-time champion Venus Williams 6-4, 6-2 on Thursday.

“Well, in years to come, hopefully I’ve gone further, as well,” the 26-year-old Konta said, reflecting on her tournament. “How about we talk about that in years to come?”

Konta’s run to the semifinals, which saw her come through a tough second-round match against Donna Vekic before beating second-seeded Simona Halep in the quarterfinals, will put her into the top five of the rankings for the first time on Monday.

The Australian-born Konta has been in the semifinals of a major tournament before, getting that far at last year’s Australian Open. She followed that by reaching the fourth round at the U.S. Open and then made the quarterfinals in Melbourne at the start of 2017.

Her record at the All England Club — with only one win in five appearances before this year — has now improved dramatically. What’s more, the British public is embracing her like it did when Andy Murray first started to go deep into the Wimbledon tournament about a decade ago.

“Konta-Mania. I didn’t hear that before,” Konta said when told about fans wearing T-shirts bearing her name. “Well, I guess it’s just incredibly humbling.

“It’s something that is greater than me and obviously just my focus on my match and my performance, and trying to improve. It does bring it slightly out of context and, I guess, makes me realize how special that is and how much people do enjoy being a part of my journey.”

On Centre Court against Williams, though, Konta faced a player that was simply too good.

The American broke Konta in the final game of the first set, and then broke for the third time in the final game of the match.

“In terms of how comfortable I felt out there and how focused I was on what I wanted to try and achieve out there, I felt really comfortable,” Konta said. “I felt good in that. In terms of that, I’m definitely happy with how I dealt with today.”

Williams has plenty more experience in the big matches at Wimbledon. She reached her ninth final at the All England Club, and will face 2015 runner-up Garbine Muguruza on Saturday for a shot at a sixth title.

Konta, though, will likely get more chances.

“She played an amazing tournament. She showed a lot of courage, played in tough situations against players who were in form,” Williams said. “I feel like she wants these majors, she’ll have an opportunity.”

If Konta does make it back, there will be at least one member of her family that won’t likely be in the stadium to witness it. Her mother, she said, gets a little too overwhelmed by the big occasions.

“She just gets too nervous watching me live,” Konta said. “She likes to walk around and keep busy. She generally kind of walks. She just walks around.”

Konta’s mother could be getting lots of exercise over the next few years.


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SAM JOHNSTON
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