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Britain’s new star talks of Hungarian links

Player talks of citizenship test to secure British status

Gulf News

New York: Britain’s Johanna Konta, born in Australia of Hungarian roots, reached the US Open second round on Tuesday, but admitted the national anthem still remains a mystery.

Konta pledged to learn the words to “God Save the Queen” as soon as possible, wary of the controversy over so-called ‘plastic Brits’ who represented the country at the Olympics.

“I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know the national anthem yet. I promise, please write this, I promise I will learn it and quiz me next time,” said the Sydney-born player.

The 21-year-old, who is ranked a modest 203 in the world, came through qualifying at Flushing Meadows and defeated Hungary’s Timos Babos 6-2, 7-5 for her first Grand Slam win on Tuesday.

Konta is the second Australia-born player to feature for Britain recently after Melbourne-born Laura Robson, who showed her promise by winning the Wimbledon junior title in 2008.

Part of the process of securing British allegiance involved taking a citizenship test which Konta insisted would exhaust the abilities of most native-born Britons.

“I thought it was quite intense. I was asking a bunch of the kids at the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) in the players lounge the questions. Half of them didn’t know the answers. I’m like, Well...,” said Konta.

“It was just a bunch about the government, how the government works, then how the health system was formed, what kind of immigration groups there were throughout the 1960s, ‘70s, ‘80s. There was a very broad range of things.

“I was very nervous going into the test because they don’t tell you how much you got. They only tell you if you pass or if you fail. I was very happy to see that I passed.”

Konta’s grandparents, uncles and aunts as well as an assortment of cousins still live in Hungary.

Being able to speak the language also helped in her win over the 59th-ranked Babos, a title winner in Monterrey this year.

“I speak Hungarian fluently. That’s what I speak with my parents. But it’s very much a country I visit, not a place I call home,” added Konta.

“I have known Timea for a while. I knew exactly what the crowd was saying to her in Hungarian. I understood everything.”

The two girls even won a doubles title in Mexico earlier this year.

Konta, who lives with parents in Eastbourne on the English south coast when she’s not training in London, next faces Olga Govortsova of Belarus for a place in the last 32.