Johanna Konta, Standard Bearer For British Women’s Tennis, Announces Her Retirement

Johanna Konta

WASHINGTON, December 1, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Johanna Konta, the standard bearer for women’s tennis in Great Britain, bid farewell on a pro tennis career in which she achieved three Grand Slam semifinals and reached World No. 4.

The 30-year-old Konta, who became the first British woman to earn a Top 5 ranking since 1984 when she rose to No. 4 in 2017, announced her retirement Wednesday morning via social media.

“Grateful. This is the world that I’ve probably used the most during my career, and is the world that I feel explains it best at the end.

“My playing career has come to an end and I am so incredibly grateful for the career that it turned out to be.

“All the evidence pointed towards me not ‘making’ it in this profession. However, my luck materialized in the people that came into my life and impacted my existence in ways that transcended tennis.

“I am so incredibly grateful for these people. You know who you are.

“Through my own resilience and through the guidance of others, I go to live my dreams. I got to become what I wanted and said as a child.

“How incredibly fortunate I count myself to be.

“How grateful I am.”

Konta, who was a four-time WTA champion, won her biggest title at the 2017 Miami Open, where she strung together victories over Simona Halep, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki in the final three rounds. She also won titles at Stanford in 2016, at Sydney in 2017, and earlier this year at Nottingham, where she was twice a finalist.

The Briton showed her versatility by reaching three Grand Slam semifinals on different surfaces, at the Australian Open in 2016 (hard court), at Wimbledon in 2017 (grass), and at the French Open in 2019 (clay). Also, she was a three-time major quarterfinalist (2017 Australian Open, 2019 Wimbledon, 2019 US Open). Konta’s 2017 Wimbledon run to the semifinals made her the first British woman to go that deep at the All England Club since Virginia Wade in 1978.

A 2016 Olympian for Great Britain, Konta was also a mainstay on the British Billie Jean King Cup team and won the last 12 singles matches she played for her country.

Konta, born in Sydney, Australia to Hungarian parents, became a resident of the United Kingdom at age 14. She represented Australia internationally until gaining British citizenship in 2012, the year she made her Wimbledon debut as a wild card. Konta made her pro debut in 2006 and won her first pro title at Mostar in 2008, an ITF W10 event. She won her first Grand Slam main-draw win as a qualifier at the 2012 US Open.

In the summer of 2015, Konta broke into the WTA Top 100, thanks to a pair of quarterfinal runs on grass at Birmingham and Eastbourne, and she recorded her first Top 10 victories, against Ekaterina Makarova at Birmingham and Garbiñe Muguruza at the US Open. By June 2016, she cracked the Top 20 and ascended to the Top 10 in October that year. Konta reached the Top 5 in July 2017 – peaking at World No. 4 on July 17, 2017.

However, by the end of 2018, Konta had slumped to No. 39 before rebounding to No. 11 by September 2019 after developing a potent weapon in the drop shot to go with a flat handed groundstroke. Konta’s final year was blemished by a combination of injuries and illness. She retired in the first round of the Australian Open due to an abdominal injury. Then, after winning her final title at Nottingham on grass in June, she was forced to withdraw from the Wimbledon Championships as a result of being a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case. She missed the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for Covid-19 herself. Later, Konta withdrew in Montreal with a knee injury after reaching the third round, and pulled out of the US Open with a thigh injury.

Konta finished the 2021 season with a 10-9 win-loss record and is currently ranked No. 113. Five of her victories came during her winning run at Nottingham. Her top win of the season came against then-World No. 6 Elina Svitolina in the second round at Montreal. In the final match of her career, she lost in the first round of the Western & Southern Open to Karolina Muchova, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, in August. Konta finished her career with a 395-243 win-loss record and her career earnings exceeded $10 million.

In an interview with the WTA Insider published Wednesday on the WTA website, Konta explained her decision to retire:

“I wanted to sit with my feelings and emotions and give myself time in coming to the decision. That process has also given me some peace with it because by no means does my retiring mean that I don’t like the sport anymore or that I can’t see myself play anymore.

“Even sitting her, I miss playing. I miss that life because it’s the only life I’ve known since I have memory. So, it’s interesting detangling yourself from something that you’ve just been attached to for so long.”