The top seed talks pre-Grand Slam breakfasts, tennis idols and the misconceptions of being a professional tennis player…
Wimbledon 2018 may be over but we’ve still got a summer of tennis ahead of us, with this year’s Championships serving up a spectacular two weeks of sport (and drama).
We caught up with seasoned Wimbledon competitor and all-round inspirational woman Johanna Konta to get inside the mind of a tennis player…
What is your favourite thing about Wimbledon?
‘Well number one is definitely being at home, I think having a home crowd and home support is very special. But then Wimbledon itself as a club and as an establishment is pretty special – it’s very different to any other Slam and I think just being part of the championships is special in general.’
What is your favourite Grand Slam competition?
‘My favourite Slam is actually the US Open. I love the energy of the place and I love visiting New York City. I have experienced a lot of my firsts at Flushing Meadows so I think in that sense it does make it a little special.’
Do you prefer to play on grass or clay?
‘I actually have no preference between the two. Obviously the grass is special because it represents the period of the season where I don’t have to get on a plane – I can just drive to tournaments which is very rare, and also when I get to stay at home in a very concentrated amount, so in that sense I prefer that part of the season, but as surfaces I enjoy both.’
Do you have any pre-match rituals to get you in the zone?
‘I like to choose my own grips and my own sports strings – I even sometimes try to shower in the same shower cubicle but that doesn’t always happen.’
On the day of a big match what do you have for breakfast?
‘It varies from week to week but there are usually eggs involved – I am a huge fan of eggs and I do try and get some fruit and toast, it depends on what is available that week.’
How did you get into tennis?
‘Well my mum played a little bit and my uncle still plays to this day, but I actually started playing because there was a tennis club right next door to the primary school that I went to. They would do after school classes for a couple of hours and both my parents were working so it kind of worked out well. They were the ones who told me I had decent hand-eye co-ordination.’
What is the hardest thing you have had to give up as a tennis player?
‘I think probably just giving up a normal existence. You don’t really get to experience every day existence – you spend a lot of time away from your family and you don’t necessarily get the opportunity to develop the kind of friendships or relationships that you might if you were in one place. Your lifestyle is slightly different and your job is your life, so you don’t really leave the office.’
What’s the most common misconception about playing professional tennis?
‘Most people think it is all glamour and glitz and at certain parts it is very cool. You do get to be in some incredible places and you do get to be driven around in nice cars, but there is a massive debt to be paid prior to that to make it to that sort of level, and that part is defiantly not glitzy or glamorous.’
If you weren’t a tennis player what career path would you have taken?
‘I watched Legally Blonde when I was younger and that made me want to be a lawyer so maybe I would have followed through on that.’
Who is your tennis idol?
‘I have always admired Steffi Graf for not just her on court achievements but also how she carried herself off court. The kind of class and sophistication she represented has always been something that I have found very admirable.’
What has been you career highlight so far?
‘A tournament win – obviously Miami is the biggest tournament I have won to date, but I have been fortunate enough to have quite a few career highlights with some of the players I have got to compete against and also stages I have got to play on.’
What motivates you?
‘I guess self-improvement – just looking to maximise my own ability and hopefully I will have that feeling at the end of my career that I left no stone unturned.’
Do you ever get into the Wimbledon spirit with a glass of Pimms?
‘Not necessarily with a Pimm’s but I do like strawberries and cream.’