Wimbledon: Thunderstorms and Covid-19 dampens tournament as Johanna Konta withdraws

28 June 2021, 11:54

Terrible weather and Covid-19 have made for a bumpy start to Wimbledon 2021
Terrible weather and Covid-19 have made for a bumpy start to Wimbledon 2021. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Thunderstorms and Covid-19 have already threatened the start of Wimbledon 2021 as tennis champion Johanna Konta was forced to withdraw when a team member tested positive for the virus.

Heavy rain poured across parts of England and Wales on Monday morning, the opening day of the competition, with a Met Office yellow weather warning in place across the country as tennis fans made their way to the courts in south-west London.

The yellow thunderstorm warning says "scattered torrential thundery downpours" could result in flooded roads and is in place until 10pm.

READ MORE: Wimbledon finals to be played in front of capacity crowds

The internationally renowned competition has pushed ahead despite being affected by the pandemic, with top player Ms Konta now forced to stay indoors for 10 days.

The 30-year-old's first round match on Tuesday against Katerina Siniakova has been cancelled.

Staff scraped water off the tennis court covers after heavy rainfall
Staff scraped water off the tennis court covers after heavy rainfall. Picture: PA Images
Deep cleaning of the Wimbledon courts is taking place through the tournament
Deep cleaning of the Wimbledon courts is taking place through the tournament. Picture: PA Images

A statement from the All England Club on Sunday confirmed "both Johanna and her team member had tested negative on all their previous tests undertaken within the Championships' protocols" but that "both individuals were advised of the positive test and close contact classification and are now self-isolating for the next 10 days".

Tournament chief executive Sally Boulton said she is feeling "excitement" that the famous tennis competition is starting, adding that "we can talk about tennis and not talk about Covid".

Speaking as the gates opened to fans for the first time in two years, she said the degree of "trepidation" felt while organising Wimbledon has been no different to any other year.

The tournament is part of the Government's Covid event trails, meaning thousands can watch their favourite players compete for the first time in two years.

Fans will have to present evidence of either double-jab status or negative lateral flow tests upon arrival at the grounds.

Hundreds of spectators lined up to watch Wimbledon on Monday morning
Hundreds of spectators lined up to watch Wimbledon on Monday morning. Picture: PA Images

Speaking at a virtual press conference ahead of the first matches, Ms Bolton said extra effort had been made to deliver a "familiar feel" to the championship.

"When people arrive through the gates this morning as they are doing now, what they will see and feel is something very familiar, a championship that we've all missed for two years," she said.

"That's been a really important part of what we've done as we've gone about thinking about how we do that in a safe way.

"Obviously it's necessarily different in certain ways this year.

"The challenge above all has been the level of uncertainty that we have had throughout this year.

"But at this point the thing I'm feeling most is excitement that we're finally here and we can finally open the gates, get some players on court, get some tennis played, so we can talk about tennis and not talk about Covid."

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