San Francisco (AFP) - Britain's Johanna Konta captured her first WTA title in style on Sunday, beating former world number one 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 knot the match at a set apiece.
The 25-year-old Konta, who fired 12 aces to three from Williams, didn't 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 missteps in the final game 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 length you want to go to become that much more better at your discipline."
Konta had launched her career-best season with a win over Williams in the first round of the Australian Open, where she went on to reach the semi-finals.
Britain's top player has since gone from strength to strength, making the second week of both Indian Wells and Miami, and reaching the semi-finals at Eastbourne.
"It's daily work," Konta said of her rise. "It's daily desire to keep getting better."