Before the outset of the 2016 Australian Open, I knew that Johanna Konta was likely to pop up in the second week of the draw. If it wasn’t going to be 2016, it was going to be the next.
I was right. Konta reached the semi finals, where eventual champion Angelique Kerber ousted her in two sets.
The reason this is significant is that this was going to be the first time that the Australian public was going to learn about Konta, the same way Australia falls in love with whomever happens to show up in their living rooms for two weeks in a row around this time of year.
They would learn about Konta with all the details – her birth in Sydney, her growing up and borderline tennis obsession on the Northern Beaches, the cutting of her funding by Tennis Australia, and her subsequent defection to the United Kingdom.
That’s right; we had on our hands just about the worst-case scenario – an Australian succeeding in the sporting world, but flying a different flag. But not just any flag – the Union Jack.
This might not quite be Trevor Bayliss winning The Ashes back for England, or Eddie Jones coaching the Red Rose to 18 straight victories, but it’s not far off. Especially if Konta goes on to win a Grand Slam.
Somewhat surprisingly, Australia was fairly okay about it all. But that’s because they already had their golden girl for the 2016 Open – new Aussie Daria Gavrilova.
Gavrilova, or ‘Dasha’, as she is affectionately known by the Australian public, is from Russia. But in 2014, she decided to join the increasingly lengthy line of foreign imports funded by Tennis Australia in exchange for carrying our flag into battle.
By the way, it should at this point be recognised that it is this practice that lost Johanna Konta to Great Britain in the first place. But no matter. We got one back on the rest of the world.
Credit to DG – she had the guts to turn her back on her homeland of Russia. Certainly not something I would have the balls to do if I were from Russia.
She has also managed to drum up a remarkably large amount of support from the Aussie public given as late as 2014 she was saying “da” instead of “yea” and “comrade” instead of “mate”.
Perhaps that’s just how fickle the public is, and how desperate they are to support a winner. But we already have one. She just won the Miami Masters. Her name is Johanna Konta.
For those claiming Konta turned her back on her country, she didn’t. Her country turned its back on her. Tennis Australia said “thanks, but no thanks” when Konta needed them the most.
Yes, it was the ASC that essentially forced TA to make the decision. But the decision was made, and it is for this reason that the Union Jack is the only flag Konta waves, not just a small portion of it.
Besides, who are we to condemn Konta as a traitor? We have been gladly accepting Russia’s (Dash), Croatia’s (Ajla Tomjanovic) and Slovakia’s (Jarmila Wolfe) athletes for years now.
Of course, in Australia, the matter of who actually wants to fly our flag will always win out. Fair enough too.
But if you’re going to cheer for one Australian, I’m going to cheer for another. Congratulations on the biggest win of your career Jo!