Williams handed worst defeat of her career in San Jose
The 23-time Grand Slam winner struggled mightily against the British No. 1 and former winner Konta, who crushed Williams 6-1, 6-0 in just 51 minutes on the main Stadium.
Williams, who was playing her first match since dropping the Wimbledon final, is trying to regain her top form after missing most of the 2017 season due to a pregnancy.
The 36-year-old Williams tried to shrug off the worst loss of her hall of fame career.
“I don’t know. I have so many things on my mind that I don’t have time to be shocked about a loss where I clearly wasn’t at my best,” she said.
Williams, who was seeded sixth, managed just nine winners against 25 unforced errors and had her serve broken six times.
She looked nothing like the player that dominated the Tour for years, winning 72 singles titles and earning more than $86 million in prize money.
“She obviously wasn’t playing her best level - nowhere near - so I tried to play the match on my terms and just do what I can out here,” Konta said.
Both women were playing their first match since Wimbledon, where Williams finished runner-up to Angelique Kerber and Konta lost in the second round to eventual quarter-finalist Dominika Cibulkova.
The loss to Konta comes just over a month after Williams complained that she is being discriminated against by the sport’s drug testing program because of the number of samples she is being asked to provide.
“Out of all the players it’s been proven I’m the one getting tested the most. Discrimination? I think so,” Williams wrote in a tweet.
Williams had won this tournament the last three times she played it in 2011, 2012 and 2014 and won her only previous meeting with Konta 6-2 6-3 in the 2017 Australian Open quarter-finals.
“I think she played better in this match than she did 18 months ago, so that’s a good thing for her,” said Williams.
Konta won her maiden WTA title at this event in 2016 when it was held in Stanford University, defeating Williams’ older sister Venus in the final.
Konta next faces Sofia Kenin, who earned an impressive win over qualifier Veronica Cepede Royg on July 30.
Konta played a superb match with 17 winners, nine unforced errors and won 83 percent of her first-serve points.
This was one of the biggest wins of her career but Konta said she won’t be celebrating too long because there is more work to do.
“I don’t believe in big bang moments, or magic moments where the fingers click and it all comes together,” she said.
“I believe in continuous hard work and every day perseverance, putting in the work and trusting the process.
“All this match has given me is the chance to play another one. I’m grateful for that opportunity and will work hard for another one.”