History makers Konta, Venus into Wimbledon semis

Venus Williams

Johanna Konta became the first British woman in 39 years to reach the Wimbledon semifinals yesterday, while five-time champion Venus Williams also made history as the oldest semifinalist since 1994.

Konta thrilled the patriotic Centre Court crowd with a pulsating 6-7 (2/7) 7-6 (7/5) 6-4 victory that ended second seed Simona Halep’s bid to become the new world No 1.

In a potentially classic semifinal tomorrow, Konta faces American star Venus.

Williams had her own landmark moment on Centre Court with a 6-3 7-5 win over French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko to become the oldest semifinalist since Martina Navratilova 23 years ago.

Halep’s defeat means Czech Karolina Pliskova, who lost in the Wimbledon second round, will replace Angelique Kerber on top of the WTA rankings.

Konta, 26, is the first Briton since Virginia Wade in 1978 to make the women’s semifinals.

Wade, the last British woman to win Wimbledon in 1977, was watching from the Royal Box as Konta reached the second grand slam semifinal of her career, the other ending in last year’s Australian Open defeat against Kerber.

“Right now, it’s a little bit surreal just because it’s quite incredible how quickly things go in tennis. I’m definitely digesting things a little bit still,” Konta, who was ranked outside the top 150 two years ago, said.

Born in Australia to Hungarian parents, Konta moved to England at the age of 14, gaining citizenship in 2012.

Adapting to the grass courts was not easy for Konta, who won just one match in her previous five visits to Wimbledon.

If she wins Wimbledon, it will be the first grass-court title of her career, just two weeks after she feared her participation might be ruined by a back injury suffered in the warm-up event.

Standing in Konta’s way is world No 11 Williams, who was beaten in this year’s Australian Open final and is chasing a first major title since winning Wimbledon in 2008. Williams reached the last of her eight Wimbledon finals in 2009, but the American’s victory over Ostapenko equalled her sister Serena’s total of 86 main draw match victories at Wimbledon, the most among any active player.

She will climb back into the top 10 thanks to her Wimbledon run, but breaking Serena’s record to become the tournament’s oldest champion in the Open era is her sole focus.

Garbine Muguruza powered into her second Wimbledon semifinal in the last three years with a 6-3 6-4 win over Russian seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.

She will face Magdalena Rybarikova, who became the lowest ranked woman to reach the Wimbledon semifinals for nine years, as the world No 87 shocked 24th seed Coco Vandeweghe 6-3 6-3.

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