BRITAIN’S Johanna Konta has not looked like a player shouldering the burden of expectation but when she walks out to face Venus Williams at Wimbledon today she will be stepping into the unknown.

Konta reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open last year, after beating Williams in round one, but her second appearance in the last four of a grand slam will have a rather different feel.

She will be cheered by a Centre Court crowd eager to witness the first British woman reaching the final at the All England Club since 1977, when Virginia Wade went on to win the title.

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And she will be up against an opponent playing her 22nd grand slam semi-final, her first coming at the US Open 20 years ago when Konta had just turned six.

It means Konta will be left to draw on the fortitude that has got her through a trio of three-setters already at this tournament, not to mention three WTA finals, the first of which saw her beat Williams to claim her first title in Stanford.

“I’d like to think actually that all the matches I played – I know this will be my second slam semi-final – but I do think nerves and excitement and those sorts of emotions that come along with big matches aren’t necessarily specific to grand slam moments,” Konta said.

“I’ve been a part of some great moments and exciting moments in other events as well. I’d like to think that I’ll be using all that experience come Thursday.”

Williams was one of Konta’s idols growing up and the 37-year-old is enjoying something of an Indian summer in her already-glittering career.

After four relatively barren years dealing with the effects of Sjogren’s syndrome – a disorder causing fatigue and pain in the joints – Williams has now made the last 16 of six consecutive major tournaments.

She has won seven grand slams, five at Wimbledon, and is bidding to become the oldest female to reach the final since Martina Navratilova in 1994.

“I definitely think experience helps, for sure,” Williams said.

“For a lot of the players I’ve played, it’s their first time in the third round or the quarter-finals.

“So I have an opportunity to bank on experience in having dealt with those sort of pressures before.”

Konta, however, has no reason to feel overawed by Williams, whom she has beaten three times in five previous meetings and is one of the few players able to match the American’s blistering baseline game.

They have never played before on grass, where Williams is most comfortable, but after a slow start to her Wimbledon career, Konta has shown she too can become a specialist at SW19.

“I think grass can become her best surface,” Konta’s coach Wim Fissette said.

“Grass is good for Jo because she can be very clear about what she needs to do. She doesn’t have to think too much. She likes to follow her instincts.

“She follows the game plan but she is a player we cannot give too much information to because she plays on feeling.

“It was the same with Kim Clijsters. The more information I give her, the more difficult it is for her to adjust.”