Saturday Kitchen: Johanna Konta on year of ‘rotten luck’
Konta appears on a Question of Sport today, and is hosted by Paddy McGuinness. Joining the lineup, England rugby international James Haskell, Olympic hockey champion Hollie Pearne-Webb and European champion sprinter Anyika Onuora. Team captains, Sam Quek and Ugo Monye will also be on the show for the 24th episode of the sport based quiz programme’s new-look season.
Konta, who is one of the most successful British tennis players in the modern game, announced her retirement from the sport in December, aged 30.
She was the first British woman in more than 30 years to reach a Grand Slam quarter final, contesting three semi-finals in total, while she reached a career-high ranking of No 4 in 2017.
A year later, she inflicted the heaviest defeat of Serena Williams’ career, with a 6-1 6-0 win over the US star in San Jose.
It took her a mere 53 minutes to dispatch the 23-time Grand Slam winner.
Konta disagreed with Williams’ sexism claim
Konta appears on Question of Sport on BBC One
The same year Konta also gave Williams a dressing down off court after the 40-year-old branded tennis umpire Carlos Ramos a “liar” and a “sexist” after she was defeated 6-2 6-4 by Naomi Osaka in the US Open final.
The former British No 1 offered her backing to the umpire and criticised Williams for bringing sexism into the argument.
Speaking at the Oxford Union, Konta said: “I’m all for equal rights but I don’t necessarily always agree when you don’t like something, you brush it onto the inequality carpet and say, ‘Because I’m a woman I didn’t get this.’
“I don’t necessarily always agree with that approach.
Williams has won 23 Grand Slams
“I think if you [were to] look at this umpire’s history and that were to stand out then yeah there is an argument to that.
“But I think they took the stats specifically for the US Open and the men actually got significantly more code violations than the women.
“The umpire was right, Patrick Mouratoglou was coaching, he said so — he gave a coaching violation.
“I think that has to be taken separately to what happened after.”
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Williams accused Carlos Ramos of sexism
Konta did have sympathy for Williams, stressing that the incident took place in the emotionally-charged environment of a Grand Slam final.
However she noted that in Ramos’ distinguished umpiring career he had penalised household male names such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Konta continued: “One [thing] that is 100 percent certain is that emotions are always incredibly high in a match and I would imagine more so in a Grand Slam final.
“Everybody is human, including Serena Williams, and I think the US Open just brings that out of her.
Konta went on to praise Williams for being passionate in the pursuit of equality
“She has been disqualified once before at the same event so bless her. I think she feels the stress there that’s for sure.
“However, I think you’ve also got to look at the umpire. The specific umpire is a stickler for the rules.
“He gave coaching violations to Djokovic and to Nadal in different Slams.
“I don’t believe that was a sexist issue personally.
“I believe it was emotions running high and things just snowballed. That’s what I believe… don’t hate me, Serena!”
Konta went on to praise Williams for being passionate in the pursuit of equality, despite the American having missed the mark on that particular occasion.
She said: “One thing you cannot take away from Serena is how passionate she is about women’s rights.
“It is because of people like her and Billie Jean King that conversations are started, topics are put in the forefront and change can be made.”
Question of Sport airs at 7:30pm on BBC One.