Johanna Konta retires from tennis at age of 30
Johanna Konta has announced her retirement from professional tennis. The 30-year-old, who won four titles on the WTA tour, and holds the record for the longest continuous run as the women’s British No 1, announced the news on social media with a message titled ‘Grateful’.
“This is the word I’ve probably used the most during my career atn is the word that I feel explains it best at the end,” Konta said.
“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 materialised 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 got 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 born in Sydney, 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. The rest of the year was a virtual washout, with the exception of one fine victory over world No 3 Elina Svitolina in Montreal. Even after that, however, Konta was unable to continue in the tournament, withdrawing from her next match because of a recurrence of knee tendinitis which has dogged her for the past three years.
She played only once more – a tough three-set loss to Karolina Muchova in Cincinnati on Aug 17 – before pulling out of the US Open with a thigh injury and calling an end to her season.
As well as this year’s Nottingham Open, Konta also won at Stanford in 2016, and at Sydney and Miami in 2017. A semi-finalist at the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon, she reached a career-high of world no.4 in July 2017 — the highest ranking by a British woman since Virginia Wade in 1978. In 2017 she was also shortlisted for BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Alongside her success on the singles court, Konta also represented Great Britain as part of the Fed Cup team and was also part of Team GB for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Her performance as part of a team saw Konta win the ‘Fed Cup Heart Award’ in 2019 — an accolade awarded to players who have shown outstanding determination and courage on court in the group competition.
Growing media career and family ambitions
Even before news of her retirement Konta had been developing a media career. She was a panellist on BBC1’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.