SAN JOSE, CA, USA - British No.1 Johanna Konta played some of her best tennis of the season to stun former World No.1 and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, winning the battle of former Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic winners, 6-1, 6-0.
"It's an absolute privilege to be on the same court as Serena," she told Rennae Stubbs during their on-court interview. "After all she's achieved, it's so humbling just to come up against her. She obviously wasn't playing her best level - nowhere near - so I tried to play the match on my terms and just do what I can out here, put aside what an incredible champion she is, and just play the player on the day.
"I might have been better on the day, but it's still a humbling experience to be out there with her."
Both women were playing their first match since Wimbledon, where Williams finished runner-up and Konta fell in the second round to eventual quarterfinalist Dominika Cibulkova.
Konta won her maiden WTA title at this event when it was held in Stanford back in 2016, beating Serena's sister Venus in the final. After enjoying a career-best run at the All England Club back in 2017, her performance this June marked 12 months of disappointing results for the former World No.4.
"I don't believe in big bang moments, or magic moments where the fingers click and it all comes together. I believe in continuous hard work and every day perseverance, putting in the work and trusting the process. All this match has given me is the chance to play another one. I'm grateful for that opportunity and will work hard for another one."
Nonetheless, the 27-year-old turned that all around on Tuesday, winning 12 straight games to defeat the American in 51 minutes on Stadium Court.
"Besides being the greatest player of all time, what makes her that is how she competes. I had to stay focused on every point because it could have turned at any moment. I just wanted to keep getting points under my belt, keep going because I was clear on what I was doing on my side of the court. I'm just very happy to come through in the end."
In all, Konta played a pitch perfect match with 17 winners, nine unforced errors, and a 66% conversion rate on break point opportunites. Williams, by stark contrast, struggled to find her form throughout, managing nine winners against 25 unforced errors without earning a break point on the Konta serve.
"I think she played well in the second set," Serena said after the match. "I wasn't sharp at all in the first set, and she got more confident from there. She clearly ran away with it.
"I suppose things went wrong in the second game since I won the first - it was the only game I won in the match. I'm just taking everything a day at a time.
"I think she played better in this match than she has in about 18 months, so that's great for her. I know I can play a zillion times better, but I have so many things on my mind, I don't have time to be shocked about a loss that clearly wasn't when I was at my best. I can only try to be there and fight, which is what I was doing out there. I moved a lot better, too, so I'll take the positives where I can."
Up next for the Brit is another American in Sofia Kenin, who earned a decisive win over qualifier Veronica Cepede Royg on Monday.
"Two years ago, it was at a different home," Konta said. "It's a nice new home, and it was great to see so many people out here and cheering, supporting tennis. I'm happy to be here and look forward to trying to be here the whole week."