LONDON, Great Britain - Before Wimbledon, Johanna Konta had never been considered a favorite to win a Grand Slam. Having dealt with the pressure of a nation's hopes to carve a path to the semifinals, she leaves SW19 with her head held high - and a special invitation from none other than Van Morrison.
Konta had won only one match at Wimbledon prior to this year, but was installed as the betting favorite midway through the first week. As if making up for lost time, her run to the last four was packed with defining Centre Court moments: a 7-6(4), 4-6, 10-8 epic win over Donna Vekic, a nerveless 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4 defeat of Caroline Garcia, a battling 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-4 comeback over Simona Halep.
In that context, a high-quality loss to five-time champion Venus Williams was no anticlimax. As Konta said afterwards: "She dictated the match from the very first ball till the very last one. I think she just showed her true qualities and why she's a five-time champion here, just a true champion that she is."
More importantly for the British No.1, the success with which she dealt with the pressure of new territory is something she can build on: Konta intends to make Wimbledon 2017 a launching pad rather than her peak. "There's a lot of exciting things that I can still get better at, which is exciting for me and exciting for my team, and my own development," she told press afterwards.
"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."
First, though, there's that U2 gig to attend that Konta has been telling the press about - and a Van Morrison invitation to take up.