July 13, 2017
What a legend! Venus Williams defeated Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2 to reach the Wimbledon final, where she will face the highly impressive Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
If the truth be told, it was Muguruza who played the most awesome tennis on Women’s Semi-Finals day.
She battered Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1, 6-1 with such a scintillating all-round display that she would be unstoppable were she to conjure a repeat performance on Saturday.
But that’s just it. Women don’t always play their best against Venus, simply because she is a legend, not only in her own lifetime but in her own career-time… at the ripe old age of 37!
So it was for poor Johanna Konta on her big day in front of her own British fans. She practically beat herself, she was so up tight in the big moments.
Often she overhit and watched the ball loop long, or else snatched at a shot and saw it fly into the net instead.
Then there was her plodding footwork, which failed to deal with the Venus body-serve when the older woman showed such wily tactics.
Early on, the signs were promising for Konta. Williams seemed incapable of extreme lateral movement, she wasn’t bothering to cover the baseline corners, and she seemed reluctant to bend low for shots either.
Somehow Konta either didn’t spot this or couldn’t find the composure to be ruthless and capitalise.
As we highlighted previously, it was worrying to hear Konta describe the prospect of playing the legendary Venus as ‘humbling.’
It’s a nice tribute, of course. But “humble,” leads to “intimidated,” and that is not what you need to be on a tennis court against a Williams sister, because you will inevitably be crushed.
For all that, Konta knew she had her chance, just as fellow Brit Andy Murray had his chance the previous day against another American who emerged the winner, Sam Querrey.
Konta won’t want to revisit the two break points she earned at 4-4. Had she taken just one of them, she would have been serving for that opening set. Instead Venus showed her mental strength with a stinging first serve to help save one break point, and Konta’s fragility cost her the other.
The less experienced woman was never really in the match again, as she seemed to unravel psychologically every time she made an unforced error.
No wonder poor Jo couldn’t wait to get off court at the end, stopping only when her conscience told her to sign a few hurried autographs along the way, for the fans who had come to see her.
Let’s not be unfair to Konta, though. This was her first time in the harshest of spotlights, dealing with the pressure of a Wimbledon semi-final, the last hope in her own country. She has done Britain proud this week,and she will return even stronger next year.
In contrast to Konta’s naivety, Venus had lost count of the number of times she had been so deep at the All England Club. And of course she has already won the title five times.
Can she make it a Super Six? She certainly wasn’t taking that for granted, as she charmingly called on her sister Serena’s strength and know-how too.
Venus said, ‘One more win would be amazing. It won’t be a given but I’ll give it my all. I couldn’t have asked for more…but I will ask for more. Garbine and I play so well on grass, I’ll have to ask Serena for some tips.
‘I wish Serena was here, I miss her terribly, I wish she could do this for me.’
Garbine Muguruza, who lost to Serena in the 2015 Wimbledon final, will have learned from that experience, make no mistake.
And the way she trounced Rybarikova was ominous. If Muguruza and Venus produce the very best tennis they are capable of right now, Garbine will probably just edge it, because she is in her prime and hitting like a dream.
But will Muguruza remain relaxed enough to repeat that incredible semi-final level when it comes to the showpiece occasion against the seasoned Venus?
We’ll soon find out. And it’s going to be fascinating. Not just that. If Venus wins, it will be historic, coming two decades after she first appeared at Wimbledon. Who wouldn’t want to be there?
If you want to be on Centre Court, for the Women’s or the Men’s Finals, just click here to make your purchase, just in time for the biggest matches of all. Venus and Roger. What more could we ask for?