Aussie-born British No.1 tennis star Johanna Konta has praised the feeling of ‘normality’ in Melbourne ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year.
The former Melbourne semi-finalist is due to play against American Bernarda Pera at the Gippsland Trophy at Melbourne Park.
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But after 14 days of quarantine, Konta said being able to go out in public and enjoy a community that is currently coronavirus free is a nice relief.
"It's the closest to feeling normal that we've probably had in almost a year," she said.
"There's still masks being worn generally, which is obviously not what we would have considered normal a year ago, but having the opportunity to go to restaurants, to see more people milling about, it definitely does give you a sense of normality.
"(On Saturday) we were walking down the street and there were people queuing up to go into bars and clubs and stuff. At one point we had to walk through a bit of a crowd of people and it was interesting.
"To me, it felt so nice to not be so worried to be around people. Not that I'm going to be getting chummy with a big group of people, but it was a nice feeling to be able to walk through and not think twice about it."
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Konta is set to see her sisters, who will fly down from Sydney, and is also looking forward to playing in front of a decent sized crowd next week.
"Besides the French Open, where there were a few people here and there, we haven't had any fans since the beginning of last year.
"I've always said it's one of the things that I truly love about what I do."
Konta held onto her position in the top 15 during 2020 but that was largely a result of changes to the ranking system, meaning players can count results from two years rather than one.
She struggled last year to regain the form that helped her reach two Grand Slam quarter-finals and one semi-final in 2019 after a lengthy absence.
The knee remains an issue, but she said: "My management of it continues to get better and better and I'm still very hopeful that I'll get to a point where I will be pain-free at some point."
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