Vision, belief and determination make Johanna Konta’s win to reach Australian Open semis a real imagine.change moment

I first met Johanna Konta back in September 2013 at the LTA’s headquarters in Roehampton. I was introduced to her by her manager, who I knew previously through other tennis partnerships we held at that time.

The purpose of our meeting was to see if Johanna could be part of our Imagine Change Ambassador programme, which was created in April 2012, coinciding with the launch of our global tag line ‘imagine.change’.

The programme was designed to invest in young, up-and-coming British talent who needed support in crossing the chasm between junior and senior level. A crossing that has proved difficult for many sports people across a variety of sports.

Johanna was 22 and ranked 141 in the world at the time. I was immediately impressed by her determination and drive, as well as by her bubbly and charming personality. I explained why we had created such a programme and asked how it could support her progression and help her towards her goals.

She answered me in a way that I wasn’t expecting!

“One of the ways I’ll use your support is to ensure I have my physical coach with me across the tour, especially on the Asian leg. Recovery from game to game, day to day is key and his presence will ensure I have the best chance possible of winning and progressing through tournaments.”

IMG_2940_editedIn a time when some sports stars see sponsorship as incremental income, Johanna would use our support to aid her journey towards Grand Slam appearances. A refreshing and frankly inspirational way of thinking!

Two years on, in November 2015, we caught up again at our office in Broadgate Tower, prior to the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2. Johanna was taking part in a Women Ahead roundtable that we were hosting.

We reminisced about our first conversation and spoke about all of her great achievements over the last few months including becoming the British number 1; a shining example of how she has brought imagine.change to life. She also mentioned her excitement about the Australian Open, having pre-qualified, and seemed relaxed and focused.

This morning, Johanna reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open, the first British woman to do so since 1983. What she has achieved is truly amazing and well beyond most people’s expectations, maybe even her own. But certainly not mine! I’m never surprised when Johanna wins, as I never forget that drive and passion she and her parents displayed in our first meeting. Johanna always knew where she wanted to be and what she wanted to accomplish, and it is truly an inspiration to see her realising her potential and achieving her dreams.

Ricoh UK is very proud to support Johanna and, personally, I am delighted at what she has achieved, not just over the last two weeks, but the last two years. She really has brought imagine.change to life.

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