'I ran out of steam' - Johanna Konta on why she retired from tennis and what's next for the former British No 1
Sussex tennis star and former British No 1 Johanna Konta has announced her retirement from tennis.
The 30-year-old has struggled with a persistent knee problem over the past couple of years and slipped to 113 in the rankings.
Konta made the announcement on social media with a post headed ‘Grateful’.
She wrote: “This is the word that I’ve probably used the most during my career and is the word that I feel explains it best in the end.
“My playing career has come to an end, and I am so incredibly grateful for the career that it turned out to be. All the evidence pointed towards me not ‘making’ it in this profession.
“However my luck materialised in the people that came into my life and impacted my existence in ways that transcended tennis.
“I am so incredibly grateful for these people. You know who you are. Through my own resilience and through the guidance of others, I got to live my dreams. I got to become what I wanted and said as a child.
“How incredibly fortunate I count myself to be. How grateful I am.”
Born in Australia to Hungarian parents, Konta moved to Europe to pursue her tennis career as a teenager, settling with her family in Eastbourne and becoming a British citizen in 2012.
A relatively late developer, Konta’s emergence at the top of the game began in 2015, and the following year she reached her first grand slam semi-final at the Australian Open and climbed into the top 10.
Her best season was arguably in 2017, when she became the first British player since Virginia Wade to make the semi-finals at Wimbledon, won the biggest of her four career titles at the Miami Open and peaked at fourth in the rankings.
Konta slipped down the rankings in 2018 but was resurgent the following year, making another grand slam semi-final at the French Open as well as quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open.
She will shortly marry fiance Jackson Wade and has made no secret of her desire to start a family, something she did not want to do alongside her career.
Konta retires as the best British female player of the last 30 years and someone universally praised for their professionalism and application.
Rumours had been growing that Konta would not start the 2022 season and, having stopped her year in August because of a groin injury, she had not been seen at her training base at the National Tennis Centre.
Her final match was a three-set loss to Karolina Muchova at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.
Tributes were quick to pour in, with Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Scott Lloyd saying: “On behalf of the LTA and everyone involved in British Tennis, I want to express my appreciation to Johanna for her hugely impressive career.
“To reach the semi-finals of three slams and spend more time as British number one than any other woman since the WTA rankings began shows the level of her achievements. We wish her well in the future and hope that she will continue to play a role in British tennis in the years to come.”
Konta’s fellow former British number one, Greg Rusedski, posted on Twitter: “Well done on a brilliant tennis career. You should be so proud of everything you have achieved.”
In an interview with the WTA, Konta said: “I wanted to sit with my feelings and emotions and give myself time in coming to the decision.
“That process has also given me some peace with it because by no means does my retiring mean that I don’t like the sport anymore or that I can’t see myself play anymore.
“Even sitting here, I miss playing. I miss that life because it’s the only life I’ve known since I have memory. So it’s interesting detangling yourself from something that you’ve just been attached to for so long.
“For me, it’s just about putting my emotional, mental, physical well-being in the position to put that energy and work in to be able to do that. It’s that link of being able to convince yourself to be in pain. I just ran out of steam for it.”
Konta described coming home after her final match, saying: “I remember when I got back from the US, that’s where it kind of culminated and where I felt like the decision was coming. Not too long after that, I felt like I was making the decision. I held my racket because I was putting it away and I started crying.
“So in that sense, it is a break-up. But it is amicable because I don’t look back on my career and judge it according to everything that it took from me to achieve it. I do look back on it and just see everything that it gave me and everything it’s allowed me to experience.”
Konta was also valued for her work behind the scenes in the women’s game, and WTA chairman and chief executive Steve Simon said: “Both on and off the court, she embodied the highest levels of professionalism and leadership, which has been demonstrated through both her outstanding results and commitment to our sport as a vital member of the WTA Players’ Council.
“We wish her nothing but great happiness and success as she embarks on what I am sure will be a very exciting next chapter of her life.”