She was trying to process an agonizing quarterfinal defeat at Wimbledon, but British No.1 Johanna Konta labeled a reporter “patronizing” and “disrespectful” after he questioned her big-match mentality.
The 28-year-old Konta had led 4-1 in the first set but succumbed 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 to unseeded Czech 33-year-old Barbora Strycova, prompting some probing questions.
Konta explained how difficult her opponent was, but one reporter pointed to her 33 unforced errors among a number of other issues and wondered whether she could have done better at key times.
“Is that in your professional tennis opinion?” she fired back.
‘Please don’t patronize me’
He replied: “No, that’s just as a watching spectator with everyone else on Centre Court willing you on.”
“I don’t think you need to pick on me in a harsh way,” added Konta, who also lost to an unseeded Czech in the semifinals of the French Open in June.
“I mean, I think I’m very open with you guys. I say how I feel out there. If you don’t want to accept that answer or you don’t agree with it, that’s fine.
“I still believe in the tennis that I play. I still believe in the way I competed. Yeah, I don’t have much else to say to your question.”
The reporter wasn’t done yet.
“I’m just asking you as somebody who presumably wants to go on from here, learn from this, win a Grand Slam one day. Is it not something…”
Konta interrupted: “Please don’t patronize me…. In the way you’re asking your question, you’re being quite disrespectful and you’re patronizing me. I’m a professional competitor who did her best today, and that’s all there is to that.”
A familiar scene
This isn’t the first time Konta has hit back at members of the media following exits from grand slams.
In 2018, after her first-round defeat to world No. 93 Yulia Putintseva at the French Open, she accused journalists of making her job more difficult with their criticism.
“If every time you went in to work … let’s say you went into work because, obviously, you travel, and let’s say for a few years your pieces of writing have just been crap every time when you come into Roland Garros. Right? Just crap. And then your colleagues start to say, ‘You know, you really suck around that time.’ And that happens, you know, for a few years.
“How would you guys digest that, and would you feel any sort of lingering kind of, ‘Oh, you know what? I want to prove these bastards wrong.’ And it’s just kind of lingering there. So it’s not something I would like to buy into, and I don’t think I do. However, you guys don’t make it easy.”
Having endured a tough 2018 in which she only reached one final — she lost in Nottingham to Ashleigh Barty — Konta’s ranking dropped to as low as 50th in the world.
But after hiring Dimitri Zavialoff as her coach late last year, she’s undergone a rapid uptick in form.
Konta returned to the top 20 rankings following her semifinal appearance in the French Open in June.