Johanna Konta has not played a match since since August, nor has she been seen on the practice court at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, but she has appeared for an interview with Tennis Actu TV recently and admitted that she has been struggling with her fitness and could well miss out on the first Grand Slam of the season in Australia.
It was very difficult – there was nothing good and nothing fun about having Covid and having to miss Wimbledon and the Olympics, there is no getting around that. However, I consider myself a happy, positive and pragmatic person, and I like to take a step back and look at the good things that I have in my life. At the end of the day, I looked at my life and everything is fine. Johanna Konta
The 30-year old, who is preparing for her coming wedding to fiancé Jackson Wade, has been suffering from heart palpitations after first experiencing breathing problems in a match at the US Open in 2016, and she has since endured similar episodes on four other occasions.
“I sometimes have heart palpitations,” Konta explained about the issue. “Basically my heart rate just shoots up for no reason.
“It makes me a bit light-headed. I just needed to see the doctor and the physio to see where it was at. It was very, very high.
“The first time it happened was in Birmingham in 2017; the second time was in Beijing 2018, actually in the evening match that day; the third time was three months ago when I was doing my training block on clay at my home in London.
“So I wouldn’t say that there’s a massive common denominator. It’s been under stressful situations, it’s been under actual no-stress situations.
“It’s unfortunate that it’s happened to me now twice in the past three months. But that’s no indication that it’s going to pick up frequency.
“I’ve had all the heart tests done you could possibly have, and my heart is absolutely fine. Obviously it’s not ideal. It’s probably not going to happen again for a year. It’s one of those things but I’m not worried.
“It’s one of those things you need to catch in the moment to be able to record and measure it – which we haven’t been able to do, because it has been sporadic.”
It has been a difficult year for the former British No 1, who only played 18 matches all season and has seen her ranking drop to 112 in the world.
An abdominal issue forced her to miss the Australian Open in Melbourne in January, before she was able to compete at the French Open in May, where her challenge ended early when she lost to Sorana Cirstea in the first round.
Konta also missed Wimbledon and the Olympics after contracting Covid-19, and then was forced to withdraw from the US Open on the eve of the tournament due to a thigh injury.
“It was very difficult – there was nothing good and nothing fun about having Covid and having to miss Wimbledon and the Olympics, there is no getting around that,” she said.
“However, I consider myself a happy, positive and pragmatic person, and I like to take a step back and look at the good things that I have in my life.
“At the end of the day, I looked at my life and everything is fine.”
There was spectacular high point in June, though, when Konta won the Viking Open in Nottingham, becoming the first British woman to lift a WTA title on home soil since Sue Barker in 1981.
She had looked poised for a deep run at Wimbledon, where she has previously reached the semi-finals, but the virus put paid to that, and the rest of her year proved disappointing, with the exception of one fine win over World No 3 Elina Svitolina in Montreal before she had to withdraw from the event in Canada because of knee trouble.
Konta played her last match in Cincinnati in August, and suffered a tough three-set loss to Karolina Muchova before pulling out of the US Open and calling an end to her season.
Her low ranking now means she probably will not make the cut-off for direct entry into the Australian Open and therefore would have to play qualifying in order to make the main draw.
With the deadline to enter the first Grand Slam of 2022 on 6 December, Konta and her team will have to make a decision over the coming days.
Konta will also be required to be fully vaccinated to play at Melbourne Park, and she has been reticent about discussing the matter, saying in the summer: “This is a tricky thing to talk about because it’s a very inflammatory subject, and there’s no real right answer.
“I don’t want to talk about it because I wouldn’t be able to get my point across without it being a case for argument.”
To cap a disappointing year, Konta was displaced as British No 1 by Emma Raducanu after the 19-year old from Bromley won the US Open and has risen to a year-ending ranking of World No 19.
Off court, the former World No 4 is keeping busy with an appearance on Question of Sport due to be aired this coming Friday and making preparations for a small wedding ceremony with long-term boyfriend Jackson Wade, probably in December.
The couple were engaged in June when Konta said she was looking towards starting a family, which could well become her next priority.
While the likes of Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka have shown it is possible to play the WTA Tour as a mother, now that new rules help returning parents with protected rankings, Konta was not enthusiastic about the prospect when asked about it last December.
“I can’t say I ever imagine myself playing on tour as a mother,” she said then. “I am not closed to the idea.
“One thing I have worked very hard on during my career is to stay quite open to things around me. But probably I’d see myself retire and then start a family.”
The knee tendinitis that she has had to manage over the last three years is also an on-going issue for Konta, which she admits may never be fully resolved.
Konta is keeping busy, recording episodes of a podcast, including interviews with Sue Barker, surfer Lucy Campbell, Formula One team director Claire Williams and a couple of members of the Harry Potter cast.
With Wade, who formerly worked as a videographer at the LTA, she has also established a dog-walking service, while she also still occupies an influential role on the WTA Player Council.
Having reached the semi-finals of three of the four majors, plus the quarter-finals of the US Open, Konta has reached a cross-road in her illustrious career and, regretfully, we just might have seen the last of her on Tour.