HOME star Johanna Konta is the first British woman into the last eight at Wimbledon since 1984 but now stands just three wins away from a much bigger prize.

Jo Durie’s run 33 years ago ended at the quarter-final stage but Konta, who beat Caroline Garcia 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-4 yesterday, looks capable of becoming the first British female to win this tournament since Virginia Wade in 1977.

First, Konta must overcome Simona Halep, the world No 2, for whom the stakes are also high as the Romanian needs just one more victory at SW19 to become world No 1.

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“I hope I will not think that much during the match,” Halep said, after beating Victoria Azarenka in the last 16. “I just want to go there and win it.”

There is also likely to be a personal edge to today’s contest after Konta and Halep’s last meeting, in the Fed Cup in April, turned sour.

Konta was playing Halep’s team-mate Sorana Cirstea when she left the court for a 20-minute break, claiming to have been abused by a section of the crowd.

Romanian team captain Ilie Nastase had earlier been ejected for making his own threatening comments but Halep and Cirstea felt Konta had taken advantage.

Halep went on to beat Konta 6-1, 6-3 on the tie’s second day and afterwards said she had felt “extra motivation” while adding the public “didn’t say anything bad” to her opponent.

Neither player was keen to regurgitate the episode at the All England Club but they also stuck to their positions.

“I’m playing against another tennis player, another opponent. I’m not playing against a crowd. I’m not playing against a past experience,” Konta said.

“Again, they were not in my shoes. They were not being verbally threatened. I think it’s very difficult for them to understand my position in it.”

Halep said: “After the match that day I said sorry if she felt bad. In my opinion, the public was very fair.

“I didn’t have an emotional match with her. The problem was not with me. I don’t expect it to be emotional, I expect a battle.”

Konta has won both of her two WTA matches against Halep, each in a final set, and the Briton might also have the benefit of some inside knowledge, given her coach Wim Fissette also worked with her opponent in 2014.

Halep, runner-up at the French Open last month, will offer an altogether different test to the more aggressive Garcia, who had all the shots on Court No 1 but lost a battle of nerve.

Konta sneaked the first-set tie-break after Garcia had fought back from 5-3 down and while the Frenchwoman enjoyed superiority in the second, she faltered at the climax of the decider.

When Garcia’s final forehand hit the net, an emotional Konta fell to her knees, as the first British female to go this far in over three decades.

“It’s very exciting. It’s another step forward to being involved in the event for the full two weeks,” Konta said.

“But it is a massive compliment to me. It’s a great achievement.

“Of course I’ve dreamed of it ever since I was a little girl, to be a grand slam champion – but right now I’m in the quarter-final.

“I’m playing against an incredibly tough opponent next. That’s my next battle. That’s all I’ve got my mind on.”

Meanwhile, Venus Williams booked a Wimbledon quarter-final clash with French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko on the day Angelique Kerber lost her grip on the world No 1 ranking.

Five-time Wimbledon champion Williams produced a rock-solid 6-3 6-2 victory over Croatian 19-year-old Ana Konjuh on Centre Court.

And that teed up an appointment today with Latvian 20-year-old Ostapenko, who was a 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) winner against Ukrainian fourth seed Elina Svitolina.

Ostapenko needed eight match points, and the 13th seed’s cry of “Come on!” when Svitolina netted on the last of those was a declaration of her relief.