By now, the story of Johanna Konta’s meteoric rise to the elite of the women’s game is well known in the tennis world. In June of 2015 she was ranked 146th in the world, struggling to make a living on the tour. Fast forward just under two years and she is now set to climb to seventh in the rankings. In the midst of this of all this, she has reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open, and won three WTA singles titles, including the Miami Open last Saturday, the most prestigious of her career to date.
Along with a cool £940,000 prize money, her Miami victory also acts as prime preparation for a maiden Grand Slam title. Having to win six matches in just 10 days against top-level opposition is the sort of baptism of fire that Grand Slam hopefuls must complete if they are to succeed on the grandest stage. While the French Open might be a stretch too far for Konta, who still needs to develop her clay court game, Wimbledon and the US Open both present realistic targets.
With Konta being arguably the best female player that Britain has produced since Virginia Wade, it begs the question why there isn’t a bigger buzz surrounding her. When Andy Murray was just a teenager with no realistic expectations of winning at SW19, the media were all over him. With Konta, now a legitimate contender, there is no such attention. Whether this is due to her relatively recent explosion onto the scene, the fact she only became a British citizen in 2012, the success of Murray dampening any craving for success, or the fact that the women’s game is often unfairly overshadowed by the men’s, it needs to change.
Konta is a generational talent; a key component to this current golden age in British tennis. We have seen the likes of Heather Watson and Laura Robson struggle to live up to the enormous expectations placed on them at a young age, and yet Konta is still unfairly overlooked by a public that so longs for success.
When she says that her goal is to reach world number one, it does not seem like a pipedream. Her performance in the heat of Miami proved if anyone is capable of coping with the increased media pressure, it’s Konta. Why not give it to her?
Image courtesy of Marianne Bevis