Johanna Konta retires from tennis at age of 30

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Johanna Konta retires from tennis at age of 30 - PA

Johanna Konta retires from tennis at age of 30 – PA

Johanna Konta has announced her retirement from professional tennis. The 30-year-old, who won four titles on the WTA Tour, said she had “run out of steam” after a tough final season of a career which put British women’s tennis back on the map.

Konta, who has been dogged in recent years by knee tendonitis, suggested in an interview with WTA Insider that she was retiring because she was no longer willing to devote herself to the sport.

“It’s…being able to convince yourself to be in pain. I just ran out of steam for it,” Konta said. “It asks a lot of you to play at your best. It asks a lot of you, not just in the results, but in the judgment of others. When I go into the office, everyone and their dog has an opinion. When you feel prepared to make that investment, that’s just a part of the job.

“But once you feel like you can’t, then I think that’s when it’s like, well, I can’t actually do this how I want to do it. I can’t. I can’t give my all for this because I just don’t have it any more to give.”

Earlier on Wednesday Konta announced her retirement on social media with a message titled ‘Grateful’.

“My playing career has come to an end, and I am so incredibly grateful for the career that it turned out to be,” she wrote. All the evidence pointed towards me not ‘making’ it in this profession…Through my own resilience and through the guidance of others, I got to live my dreams. I got to become what I wanted and said as a child.”

Konta, who was born in Sydney but relocated to Eastbourne aged 14, has earned more than £7.5 million in prize money while on the WTA Tour but had not been seen on a tennis court since earlier this year, an absence in which she slipped out of the world’s top 100.

Fourth WTA title and more knee trouble

Konta’s retirement comes at the end of a topsy-turvy year which featured one spectacular high when she won Nottingham in June – thus becoming the first British woman to lift a WTA title on home soil since Sue Barker in 1981.

At that point, Konta looked well positioned for a deep run at Wimbledon. But then she contracted Covid, missing both Wimbledon and her longed-for second Olympic campaign in Tokyo. She said that “heart palpitations” and “lightheadedness”, which have affected her since 2017 and sometimes forced her to stop playing during matches, continue to trouble her.

Her final tour-level match was a first-round loss at the Western and Southern Open to Karolina Muchova in August but memories from earlier this year may serve as a more fitting tribute to her career.

She won her fourth title, on home soil at the Nottingham Open in June, wrapping up an 13-year career in which she reached a career high of world No 4.

Johanna Konta celebrates with the trophy after winning the Nottingham Open - Johanna Konta retires from tennis at age of 30 - ACTION IMAGES

Johanna Konta celebrates with the trophy after winning the Nottingham Open – Johanna Konta retires from tennis at age of 30 – ACTION IMAGES

Something of a late-bloomer in the sport, her breakout season came aged 25 in 2016, when she won her first WTA title in Stanford, and became the first British woman in 33 years to reach a major semi-final, at the Australian Open.

Konta followed up that season with a landmark semi-final appearance at Wimbledon the following year, in the same month she broke into the top four in the world rankings — the highest ranking by a British woman since Virginia Wade in 1978. That, plus titles in Sydney and Miami, earned Konta a place on the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2017.

In 2019 Konta reached her third and final grand slam semi-final, making a historic run at Roland Garros. Alongside her success on the singles court, Konta also represented Great Britain as part of the Fed Cup team, and was part of Team GB for the 2016 Rio Olympics. She also spent five years on the WTA Players’ Council.

Growing media career and family ambitions

Even before news of her retirement Konta had been developing a media career. She was a panellist on BBC One’s Question of Sport on Friday night, having already served as a pundit for Amazon Prime’s recent coverage of Indian Wells.

During the summer of 2020, she recorded five episodes of a podcast, including interviews with Sue Barker, surfer Lucy Campbell, Formula One team director Claire Williams and a couple of members of the Harry Potter cast.

Those around her say that she is preparing for a small wedding ceremony with long-term boyfriend Jackson Wade, probably some time in December and Konta has previously spoken about wanting to start a family. She has never sounded keen on combining motherhood with a professional tennis career, however, saying last year: “I can’t say I ever imagine myself playing on tour as a mother… I am not closed to the idea. One thing I have worked very hard on during my career is to stay quite open to things around me. But probably I’d see myself retire and then start a family.”

Following Konta’s announcement a number of organisations including the LTA, All England Lawn Tennis Club and the British Olympic Association thanked Konta for her contribution to British sport.

“What Johanna accomplished on the court was incredible, but her professional aptitude is what set her apart,” Great Britain’s Billie Jean Cup captain Anne Keothavong said. “As a Billie Jean King Cup player representing her country, she laid it all out there, led by example and who can forget her marathon performances in 2019 during our first home ties in more than quarter of a century. More than anything she is a kind and caring person, and we wish her all the best in the next chapter of her life.”

Tennis Australia CEO, Craig Tiley, tweeted: “We will miss seeing you out there Jo, you’re an exceptional athlete and a leader in our sport. All the best with life post tennis, thank you for everything.”

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