Briton Johanna Konta stuns Venus Williams at Australian Open
Australian-born Brit produces one of the shocks of the first round in her first appearance at Melbourne
Britain's Johanna Konta caused a major upset at the Australian Open by beating eighth seed Venus Williams in straight sets. The 24-year-old Konta, Britain's number one ranked female player, needed just 79 minutes to beat her American opponent 6-4, 6-2 in the first round.
"Right now it is still very much a blur," admitted Konta, who lost in the first round at her two warm-up tournaments and is appearing in her first Australian Open. "When the draw came out and I saw who I was playing, I was just hoping to stay out there more than an hour."
Some commentators were quick to point out that the 35-year-old Williams was playing with her left thigh heavily-strapped, but Konta said nothing should detract from the quality of her performance. "It's irrelevant how old she is because she's such a champion with so much experience and knowledge," the Briton told reporters. "Even if she's playing with one leg out there, you've got to really take care of things on your own because she's an incredible player. I have all the respect for her in the world."
Williams, who won the last of seven Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon in 2008, had no answer to the precision of her opponent, who although representing Britain, grew up in Australia the daughter of Hungarian parents.
"I remember playing in the under 12 nationals here, a really, really long match on one of the outside courts, a very, very hot day," Konta reflected, adding that her Australian childhood has equipped her to deal with the heat.
Konta was a talented swimmer in her youth but a series of ear infections prompted her to change sports, and she chose tennis over athletics. The family moved to England when she was 13 and in the last year Konta has risen up the world rankings from 150 to be the Australian Open's number 47 seed.
"I played two previous tournaments and didn't quite get the results I wanted," said Konta. "But I have a very strong belief in the way I want to play and the way I want to be thinking."
She will now face either Carina Witthoeft or Saisai Zheng in the second round as Britain's only female representative following Heather Watson's first-round loss to Hungary's Timea Babos.
There were no problems for Andy Murray, who cruised into the second round with a 6-1 6-2 6-3 victory over 6ft 6in German teenager Alexander Zverev.
The world number two will play Aussie Sam Groth, holder of the game's fastest serve, on Thursday. "It was hot so I was glad to get it done in three sets," said Murray. "It got tough at the end and there were a lot of long games and rallies. Alex fought hard and made it very competitive."