British No 1 Jo Konta was forced to pull out on the eve of Wimbledon last night after a member of her team tested positive for Covid.
The host nation’s best hope in the women’s singles — and winner of the last tournament she played in — was immediately obliged to isolate for 10 days. Konta was in a bubble with her three designated support personnel: coach Dan Smethurst, physio Gill Myburgh and fiance Jackson Wade.
An All England Club statement confirmed that she had become the second player to scratch for that reason, following the withdrawal of Danish doubles player Freddie Nielsen on Saturday night.
Jo Konta is out of Wimbledon after coming into close contact with a positive COVID-19 case
‘A member of Johanna Konta’s team presented with Covid-19 symptoms this morning, and immediately isolated and undertook a PCR test in accordance with the Championships’ testing protocols,’ it read.
‘A positive result was returned which resulted in the AELTC, together with Public Health England, identifying Johanna Konta to be a close contact.
‘In line with Government legislation, she is required to self-isolate for 10 days and therefore is withdrawn from the Championships.
‘Both Johanna and her team member had tested negative on all their previous tests within the Championships’ protocols. Both individuals were advised of the positive test and close contact classification.’
Konta did her pre-tournament press conference on Saturday and joked that the Wimbledon bubble was akin to what she imagined life would be like on an all-inclusive cruise ship.
This desperate disappointment for her will raise the question of how many more players may be affected this way, with all the competitors and their staff staying together in a Westminster hotel.
At least she will not have to travel far as she leaves the bubble and sits out the tournament because she lives close by in the Battersea area. She will be entitled to half the first-round prize money of £48,000 under Grand Slam rules.
Konta was the highest-ranked of the nine British women in the draw and seeded 28. She was replaced by lucky loser Wang Yafan from the qualifying event.
Konta arrived at the All England Club full of confidence after winning the Nottingham Open
The 30-year-old was in high spirits speaking about bubble life at Wimbledon earlier this week
After a mediocre start to the season, Konta had won the Viking Open on the grass in Nottingham two weeks ago. Since then she had elected not to play any pre-Wimbledon events to protect her troublesome knees and had pronounced herself in excellent shape.
It is not known if Konta is fully vaccinated, and even if she was that would not count in her favour in terms of being able to play.
When asked at the French Open last month whether she was vaccinated, she replied: ‘It’s not in my nature to rush into medical things or things like that. I’m all for vaccines. I’m just waiting to see how things develop and how it fits into my life.’