SAN FRANCISCO • Britain's Johanna Konta captured her first WTA title in style on Sunday, beating former world No. 1 Venus Williams 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 at the WTA hardcourt tournament in Stanford, California.
Konta, ranked 18th in the world and seeded third, appeared on her way to an emphatic victory in her first career final after racing to a 4-1 lead with two breaks of serve in the second set.
But Williams, seeking her 50th career title, won six of the next seven games to tie the match at a set apiece.
The 25-year-old Konta, who fired 12 aces to three from Williams, did not let the seven-time Grand Slam champion's resurgence rattle her.
"Quite honestly you'd expect nothing less of a champion that she is," Konta said.
"That's what great champions do. They raise their level. They definitely don't give away a match."
Refreshed after a brief bathroom break, she broke Williams in the third game of the final set, and took a 3-1 lead with her 10th ace of the match.
She broke Williams again to serve for the match at 5-2, and despite a couple of nervy errors in the final game, she sealed the victory on her third match point.
"It was quite an incredibly humbling experience," said Konta, the first Briton to win the tournament since Sue Barker in 1977.
"It's a great validation of the hard work you do put in, and it's a great motivator on the things you want to keep getting better at, the lengths you want to go to (in order to) become that much more better at your discipline," she added.
Williams, meanwhile, admitted that Konta deserved her win for playing at a "high level".
"Credit to her for playing great tennis. She played so well and all of her balls were landing today," said Williams.
"It wasn't my best day, and she played at such a high level today. She saved her best tennis for the final, which is what you want to do."
Serena Williams, meanwhile, has pulled out of the Rogers Cup starting in Montreal on Monday because of shoulder inflammation.
"Due to inflammation in my shoulder I unfortunately must withdraw from the Rogers Cup," she said in a statement.
"I was looking forward to competing in Montreal and I look forward to returning soon."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN