By Simon Evans
BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) – The prospect of Johanna Konta becoming the first British woman to win Wimbledon in 40 years is certain to generate plenty of focus on the world number seven as next month’s tournament draws close.
But Konta, who is playing in the Aegon Classic at Edgbaston this week, says that she will not be embracing any of the likely hype and intends to try to prepare as normal – inside her “bubble”.
Virginia Wade was the last British woman to win a Wimbledon singles title in 1977.
“The things that we focus on with my team are very much to stay in my own process and bubble, my approach to my game and my approach to my career doesn’t change according to what is happening outside of me,” Konta said on Monday, when asked about how she intends to cope with the expectations that accompany her bid this year.
“We are just staying very much in the process and also just keeping things in perspective – I am out here just trying to be the best player that I can be,” she said.
Konta will be featuring in her sixth Wimbledon having never managed to get out of the second round so far.
But the 26-year-old, who was reached the final of the Nottingham WTA event before losing on Sunday to Croatian Donna Vekic, is certainly expected to mount a more serious challenge this year.
Konta began the year winning her second WTA title with a win in Sydney and reached the quarter-finals in the Australian Open and then won the biggest title of her career in Miami to establish herself inside the top 10 players in the world.
The clay season was less fruitful, with a first round exit at Roland Garros, but Konta is hoping that grass will bring glory.
“I think everyone looks to get as much time as possible on the grass going into Wimbledon – it’s a short season and for me I am just looking to play as many as I can and adapt well going into Wimbledon. But I also want to enjoy each one of them on their own as well,” she said.
Her plan is to play Eastbourne after Edgbaston and – if results go well – that could mean three solid weeks of tournament tennis in the build-up to Wimbledon.
But the Australia-born Konta is not worried about the risk of over-playing.
“I am not anticipating that, no. I train very hard to be able to withstand a lot of matches. I think if we are at that stage then that is also a very good problem,” she said.
Wimbledon looms though and while she insists she will stick to her “process”, she admits that she enjoys the big stages.
“I love playing in front of people, whether the crowd is for me or against me, the most important thing is we are entertainers, people pay to come and watch us perform and give them a good match. That is always a nice feeling when people are around and watch you give your best”.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Alison Williams)