Three-time Grand Slam semifinalist Johanna Konta returned to competition after a two-month absence during which she caught COVID-19 and dealt with what she called a “massive range of symptoms.”
“Definitely the worst illness I’ve experienced for a very long time,” Konta said in an interview with The Associated Press.
The 30-year-old Konta, who has been ranked as high as No. 4 and is currently No. 41, advanced at the National Bank Open in Montreal on Tuesday when her opponent, Zhang Shuai, retired in the second set because of an injured left leg.
Zhang also happened to have been the last player Konta faced on tour, in the final of the grass-court tournament in Nottingham, England, on June 13. Konta won that match for her fourth WTA title.
Two weeks later, Konta was forced to pull out of Wimbledon after being determined to have been in close contact with a member of her team who tested positive for the coronavirus. Konta was supposed to be the 27th seed in the women’s draw at the All England Club, where she was a semifinalist in 2017. She also reached the final four at the 2016 Australian Open in 2019 French Open.
Then, while Wimbledon was being held, Konta tested positive for COVID-19. She later withdrew from Britain’s team for the Tokyo Olympics.
“It was very heartbreaking and it was very difficult. There was nothing good and nothing fun about having COVID and having to miss Wimbledon and the Olympics. There’s just no way around that,” Konta said. “However, I consider myself quite a happy person, quite a positive person, and definitely a pragmatic person, and I like to practice perspective in all the good things I do have in my life. So I had to definitely utilize those tools. And at the end of the day, I looked at my life and everything’s OK. … And I just tried to draw energy from there and looked forward to when I could start training and get back out onto the match court.”
Konta said that neither she nor her fiance was hospitalized, “but we were quite ill.”
She said she needed to wait until about 2 1/2 weeks after getting sick to return to training.
“We took it very, very slowly. Then I got my full check, in terms of my heart, my lungs, everything, and everything came back all OK,” Konta said. “Then we started doing a little more and here we are.”
Konta has not been vaccinated for COVID-19.
“I’m definitely not against it, by no means,” Konta said. “I think, obviously, now I’m not advised to get vaccinated quite yet. I think it’ll give me a little bit of time to also see where the world is, how everything is going and then I’ll make a personal choice on kind of when and how and where and all those things.”