Getting to Know the WTA's New Star - Johanna Konta
By: Nicholas McCarvel
Johanna Konta has had a fantastic last 18 months on the WTA Tour, going from journeywoman to a Top 10 player. Here we catch up with the British star, who is making her first appearance in the Volvo Car Open main draw.
If you don’t know the name Johanna Konta you will be forgiven - for now. The 25-year-old British player has been a breakout star on the WTA Tour in the last 18 months, and has previously played the Volvo Car Open only once - in 2011 in qualifying rounds - then as the
world No. 246.
Konta lost that first Charleston match, but this year she returns as a top player on tour, having made the Australian Open semifinals last year and then quarterfinals this past January. In between, she became the first British woman to break into the Top 10 since 1983. And just recently, she clinched the biggest title of her career by winning the Miami Open.
We caught up with Johanna (pronounced Yo-hah-na) here:
Q: You’ve only played Charleston once. What are you most excited about for the tournament and coming back?
Konta: I am so excited to be coming back to Charleston! I really enjoyed my time there in 2011, and will look to extend my stay this year for as long as possible. Hopefully I will get some time to explore the city and try the restaurants everyone raves about!
Q: The last 18 months have been so successful for you on tour. What are you happiest with in your tennis? And goals for 2017?
Konta: Thank you! I’m just really enjoying being out here and competing. I’m making small improvements every day and see that as an achievement in and of itself. I look to continue throughout 2017.
Q: Charleston is the only WTA event played on green clay. How does your game match up on the surface?
Konta: I like playing on every surface, and as you know we’re transitioning into the clay season after Miami so it’s great to kick start that off in Charleston.
Q: Charleston is famous for its food. Tell us a little bit about your food habits. Favorites? Dislikes? Indulgences?
Konta: ‘Foodie’ is definitely a word people use to describe me. I like pretty much everything and generally eat healthily. If I’m treating myself, I love pizza, and gelato is my absolute favorite... Gelato is in as many meals as possible! (Laughs.)
Q: What are three things you like to do in your training to keep it feeling fresh?
Konta: This pre-season my fitness coach decided to do just that: We tried out some new, fun and interesting activities. Trampolines and rock climbing were my favorites!
Q: Name three things we can find you doing away from the tennis court to keep you mind at ease.
Konta: I like to go to the cinema, catch up with friends and eat more gelato!
Q: What would you be doing in life if it weren’t for tennis? Do you have an idea of an alternate career path?
Konta: Ooooh, good question! I’ve always liked being on the big stage and love music, so if I could sing (which I can’t, seriously!), that
would have been fun. Hey, there’s still time I guess?
Q: Yes! Plenty of time... Tell us about a woman that’s served as inspiration to you.
Konta: Steffi Graf was an inspiration to me both on and off the court. What she achieved in the sport is truly astounding and the grace with which she did everything is why she’s such a loved athlete. She continues to positively impact the world and truly transcends tennis.
Q: The first thing you do in the morning is ____________.
Konta: Mentally go through my plans for the day... I’m a very organized person!
Q: And lastly, what is a motivational phrase that has really stuck with you in your career?
Konta: “Your health is your wealth.” My body is my tool, my instrument. If I can keep myself healthy, I’m in a good place... on and off the court!