Wimbledon’s home away from home regulation ‘will be very odd’ for British No 1 Johanna Konta

Johanna Konta lifts the Viking Open trophy

Johanna Konta feels at home at Wimbledon, even though this year she will be waving to her actual home on her way to the All England Club.

Strict coronavirus-related restrictions mean all players are required to stay in designated city centre hotels and are only allowed to leave to travel to the site.

For those like Konta who live close by, it will be a strange experience, although the British number one is not kicking up a fuss.

She told the PA news agency: “I think it will be very odd. We’re staying in the middle of London, so it’s going to be quite interesting how that’s going to look going from Westminster to Wimbledon. I’m not sure anyone who booked where the hotel is knew the commute.

“It will be interesting driving past my home every day on the way to Wimbledon but the main thing is Wimbledon is going to be on and fans are going to be able to come and people are going to be able to enjoy it again, both in person and on TV. I think it’s a really important part of our British summertime.”

An intriguing aspect of this year’s Championships is how quickly players will adapt to playing on grass again after the cancellation of last summer’s tournaments, including Wimbledon.

That could play into the hands of British players and especially those, like Ellesse athlete Konta, who are able to use Wimbledon all through the year.

Johanna Konta Ellesse dress

Johanna Konta will wear a dress inspired by Chris Evert (Ellesse handout)

“I haven’t been so much this past year for obvious reasons but in the previous couple of years I had been a few times for breakfast or used the gym, or I’ve taken some friends there to play so I do use the club,” she said.

“It does feel normal, but it’s a very privileged normal, so I definitely don’t take it for granted.”

Konta has reached the semi-finals and quarter-finals in two of her last three appearances at Wimbledon but the latter half of 2019 saw her sidelined by right knee problems, and the 30-year-old has struggled for any consistent form since.

There were positive signs, though, when she won her first tournament for four years in Nottingham a couple of weeks ago, albeit in a relatively weak field.

But Konta subsequently pulled out of the grass-court events in Birmingham and her home town of Eastbourne to protect her body.

She said: “The first practice on grass, I don’t think I stopped smiling. It’s so much fun being back on the surface.

“I hadn’t won a title for a few years so to be able to win a title, it felt very nice. I’d played a few finals since winning my last title in Miami but wasn’t able to come through in any of those so I know how hard it is to win a title.

“My right knee adapted quite well, I was quite pleased. My body grumbled in different ways but that is also normal so I just need to be conscious of what I ask of my body and just give it the necessary time and space it needs to recover and deal with what I’m asking it to do.”

While 2021 has so far not been the best year on court for Konta, off court it has been one to remember after she became engaged to partner Jackson Wade on her 30th birthday last month.

Wedding plans are still in their infancy, with Konta saying: “I think we’ll be having more of a small-scale thing but it’s all TBC exactly who, when, where. But I’m really pleased, I feel like a very lucky girl.”

Konta is one of eight British women in the main draw alongside Heather Watson and wild cards Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart, Jodie Burrage, Francesca Jones, Samantha Murray Sharan and Emma Raducanu.

Burrage, Jones and 18-year-old Raducanu will all be making their main draw debuts.

Jack Draper celebrates

Jack Draper scored two standout wins at Queen’s last week (John Walton/PA)

In the men’s draw, direct entries Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie are joined by wild cards Andy Murray, Liam Broady, Jay Clarke and 19-year-old former Wimbledon junior finalist Jack Draper, who showed his potential by reaching the quarter-finals at Queen’s Club last week.

Murray is playing in the singles at Wimbledon for the first time since his hip problems surfaced in 2017 while Evans and Norrie will both be seeded.

Evans remains the British No 1 but Norrie has been the standout British player of 2021 so far and reached his third ATP Tour final of the year at Queen’s.

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