LONDON (Reuters) - New home crowd favourite Johanna Konta looked at odds with the world on Thursday as she gave Venus Williams’ hand a cursory shake at the net, the disappointment of falling at the last-but-one Wimbledon hurdle etched into her face.
But the 26-year-old’s trademark smile was back in place by the time she articulated her thoughts about the sobering 6-4 6-2 semi-final defeat - along with the conviction that her ascent through the tennis firmament is only just beginning.
“She was just, quite frankly, better than me today... I think I definitely have a lot more to improve on...,” Konta told reporters.
“But I definitely feel like there’s no reason why I would not be able to be in a position to win a title like this one day.”
That confidence seems to have drawn extra strength from the wave of support that has built for her over the past 10 days, reaching a crescendo after men’s world number one Andy Murray, so often the focus of British hopes at the sharp end of the Wimbledon fortnight, crashed out in the quarter-finals.
Fans calling her a role model was “humbling”, she said, and progressing to a second major semi-final - she also made the last four at the Australian Open in 2016 - put her in a better place to help raise the sport’s profile.
“I’d like to think that Andy (Murray) has inspired both girls and boys to play. I’d like to think that I‘m doing the same... I will only ever try to do that in a positive way.”
And the same goes for her own game.
Told she would break into the world’s top five on Monday, she said: “I guess it’s a nice club to be a part of. But, again, I‘m looking to keep getting better.”
Reporting by John Stonestreet; Editing by Hugh Lawson