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I'm after your crown Serena; KONTA IS FOLLOWING HER DREAM.

Byline: Steve Bates

JOHANNA KONTA is Wimbledon's dream girl - and she is aiming to depose Serena Williams as the best in the women's game.

The 26-year-old star is edging closer to fulfilling the expectations of a nation by becoming the first British woman to win Wimbledon for 40 years since Virginia Wade triumphed in 1977.

She's spent most of her offcourt time at SW19 this year dampening the hype at every opportunity after being tipped as the potential champion in Williams' absence with the American seven-time Wimbledon champion having a baby.

But as Konta prepared for tomorrow's fourth-round clash with Caroline Garcia, the No.21 seed from France, for once the British No.1 let her guard slip.

"Don't get me wrong, we all dream and why I play tennis is because of my dream," said Konta.

"My dream is to become the best player in the world - and it will be my dream for as long as I play.

"But also I keep in mind the fact that it is everyone else's dream as well.

"For me it's most important to stay grounded and stay true to the good things that I bring to my game. I still really enjoy competing and trying to be the best I can be."

Having swatted aside tenacious Greek, Maria Sakkari, to reach the second week, her commanding display did little to help her stay under the radar - especially as former Wimbledon champ Ann Jones popped in to run the rule over the improving No.6 seed.

"It's a massive compliment that those guys are watching me,"said Konta.

"But I am dissociating myself from the hype as much as I can because every match I have played here and are going to play has been challenging.

Spirit "So I just try to make sure on the day I apply myself the best I can." Konta admires the never-say-die spirit that's helped catapult Andy Murray to the top of the men's game.

And she has used that template as an inspiration to give her a vital edge and make herself a warrior.

"It's definitely something I'm trying to do. With the way the game is developing there are very few things now that set players apart," she said And with Williams a mere spectator this time, surely there's never been a better time for Konta to seize the moment? "It's not that simple," she said. "Obviously we are missing Serena. She is a massive force in women's tennis.

"But we are just showing the depth of players we have now. Everyone is out there to beat me, so I go up against them to have a battle."

prize fund at Wimbledon this year is PS31.6million - up PS3.5m from 2016. And the men's and ladies' singles winners will pocket PS2.2m each, PS200,000 more than Andy Murray and Serena Williams won last year.


PLENTY TO SMILE ABOUT: Johanna Konta could be celebrating at the end of Wimbledon

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jul 9, 2017
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