While Emma Raducanu posts pictures of her training block out of season, what has become of the woman she replaced as British No. 1? Or more directly, is Johanna Konta about to retire?
It’s not as if Konta has disappeared from sight. She will be a panelist on BBC1’s Question of Sport on Friday night, as she has already served as an expert on Amazon Prime’s latest coverage of Indian Wells. Her new career as a talking head is developing nicely.
Another place where Konta has not been seen is at the National Tennis Center in south-west London, where she would normally be in the process of building up her fitness in preparation for the January Australian Open. Instead, they say around her that she is preparing for a small wedding ceremony with longtime boyfriend Jackson Wade, probably sometime in December.
There are various practical issues that counteract a trip to Melbourne. Now ranked as No. 112, Konta would have to rely on payouts from other players to gain direct access to the Australian Open. She also had to prove that she has been double-vaccinated against Covid. This seems unlikely, given how skeptical her public statements about vaccination have been to date.
When Konta’s management was contacted for comment, he said: “Jo is currently working on assessing whether she will be ready to play. With the registration deadline on December 6, she will soon make a decision.” But the widespread assumption in British tennis is that she is not traveling to Australia, and she has now reached the stage where other priorities – primarily starting a family – will take precedence.
This leads to another question. If her home life becomes a priority, could Konta then continue to compete as a mother? People like Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka have proven that it can be done, especially now that the Women’s Tennis Association has introduced rules to help returning parents with their placements. But Konta did not sound enthusiastic at this point when asked about it last December.
“I can not say that I ever imagine playing on tour as a mother,” she replied then. “I’m not closed to the idea. One thing I’ve been working very hard on over the course of my career is keeping myself pretty open to the things around me. But probably I would see myself retiring and then starting a family. ”