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Konta thrills home fans, makes Wimbledon semis

The Associated Press

Johanna Konta reaches for a shot during her quarterfinal match against Simona Halep at Wimbledon in London on Tuesday.

AFPLONDON (AFP-Jiji) — Johanna Konta became the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon semifinals in 39 years on Tuesday, while five-time champion Venus Williams also made history as the oldest semifinalist since 1994.

Konta thrilled the patriotic Centre Court crowd with a pulsating 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 victory that ended second-seed Simona Halep’s bid to become the new world No. 1.

That set up a potentially classic semifinal on Thursday when Konta faces Williams, who had her own landmark moment on Centre Court with a 6-3, 7-5 win over French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, making her the oldest in the last four at the All England Club since Martina Navratilova 23 years ago.

Konta, 26, is the first Briton since Virginia Wade in 1978 to make the women’s semifinals.

Wade, the last British woman to win Wimbledon in 1977, was watching from the Royal Box as Konta reached the second Grand Slam semifinal of her career, the other ending in a 2016 Australian Open loss to Angelique Kerber.

“Right now it’s a little bit surreal just because it’s quite incredible how quickly things go in tennis. I’m definitely digesting things a little bit still,” said Konta, who was ranked outside the top 150 two years ago.

“I knew Simona was not going to give me much for free. I had to be the one to create my own chances. I feel fortunate enough that I took a few of them.”

Born in Australia to Hungarian parents, Konta moved to England when she was 14, switching her allegiance from the country of her birth to Britain when she gained citizenship in 2012.

Adapting to the grass courts of southwest London hadn’t been so easy for Konta, who won just one match in her previous five visits to Wimbledon.

If she wins Wimbledon, it will be the first grass-court title of her career, and comes just two weeks after she feared her participation might be jeopardized by a back injury suffered in the Eastbourne warm-up event.

Meanwhile, Garbine Muguruza powered into her second Wimbledon semifinal in the last three years with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Russian seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Muguruza, beaten by Serena Williams in the 2015 Wimbledon final, next faces Slovakian world No. 87 Magdalena Rybarikova, who became the lowest-ranked woman to reach the Wimbledon semifinals for nine years.

Rybarikova, who had lost in the first round in eight of nine previous visits to Wimbledon, shocked American 24th-seed Coco Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-3.Speech

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