What has become of the woman she replaced as UK No. 1 as Emma Raducanu posts photos from her off-season training block? Or, to put it more directly, Johanna Konta is retiring?
It’s not like Konta has disappeared from view. She will be a panelist on BBC1’s Question of Sport Friday night, having already served as an pundit for Amazon Primes’ recent coverage of Indian Wells. Her new career as a talking head is developing well.
But one place Konta hasn’t been seen is the National Tennis Center in southwest London, where she would normally build up her fitness in preparation for the Australian Open in January. Instead, those around her say she’s preparing for a small wedding ceremony with longtime boyfriend Jackson Wade, likely sometime in December.
There are several practicalities that hinder a trip to Melbourne. Now ranked at number 112, Konta would have to rely on withdrawals from other players to earn direct entry into the Australian Open. She would also have to prove that she has been double vaccinated against Covid. This seems unlikely, as her public statements about vaccination have so far been skeptical.
When contacted for comment, Konta’s management said: Jo is currently assessing whether Shell is ready to play. As the submission deadline is December 6, Shell will make a decision shortly. But the widely held assumption within British tennis is that she will not travel to Australia and has now reached the stage where other priorities, first and foremost raising a family, take precedence.
This leads to another question. If her home life becomes the priority, could Konta continue to compete as a mother? The likes of Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka have proven it can be done, especially now that the Womens Tennis Association has put in place rules to help returning parents with their rankings. But Konta didn’t sound enthusiastic at this point last December.
I can’t imagine ever playing as a mother on tour, she replied then. I am not closed to the idea. One thing I’ve worked really hard on throughout my career is to stay very open to the things around me. But probably I can see myself retiring and starting a family.
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