When they spot their idols at Wimbledon, tennis fans love to grab a selfie with Serena Williams or an autograph from Novak Djokovic.

But this year, in the age of Covid-19, that activity has been banned.

Rules of entry to the tournament state that ‘ticket holders shall not approach any competitor for any photographs or otherwise’.

What a contrast: Fans camped in Wimbledon Park two years ago  in the traditional hunt for tickets – but now it's deserted

What a contrast: Fans camped in Wimbledon Park two years ago  in the traditional hunt for tickets – but now it's deserted

What a contrast: Fans camped in Wimbledon Park two years ago  in the traditional hunt for tickets – but now it’s deserted

The same scene this year is completely empty as the new Covid regulations have taken hold ahead of the tournament

The same scene this year is completely empty as the new Covid regulations have taken hold ahead of the tournament

The same scene this year is completely empty as the new Covid regulations have taken hold ahead of the tournament 

Housekeeping staff spray seats in Centre Court with a disinfectant. It's part of the new regime to keep fans safe from Covid

Housekeeping staff spray seats in Centre Court with a disinfectant. It's part of the new regime to keep fans safe from Covid

Housekeeping staff spray seats in Centre Court with a disinfectant. It’s part of the new regime to keep fans safe from Covid

Michelle Dite, SW19’s operations director, said: ‘It’s the right and proper thing to do in this environment. We’ve signed up to be quite an important part of the recovery from Covid. One of the responsibilities is to look after and protect those players and those that come into contact with them.’

Is super Katie Swan set to be our own Marvel? 

By Inderdeep Bains 

Katie Swan, pictured above, has proved she is every inch the superhero

Katie Swan, pictured above, has proved she is every inch the superhero

Katie Swan, pictured above, has proved she is every inch the superhero

BRITISH Number 1 Johanna Konta was forced to pull out of Wimbledon last night – but Katie Swan could still be our superhero.

In a major blow against the odds of a British winner this year, Miss Konta must isolate for ten days after one of her team tested positive for Covid and she was deemed to have been a close contact.

The 30-year-old was seeded 27th and is the highest ranking of the nine British women in the draw. She was due to play Czech Katerina Siniakova in the first round tomorrow.

Miss Konta, who was born in Australia but took British citizenship in 2012, had been a great British hope for the competition, having reached the semi-final in 2017 and the quarter-finals in 2019.

She was entering the tournament in good form, winning her first title in four years in Nottingham this month.

Speaking about how much she was looking forward to playing at Wimbledon again, and compared living in the strict tournament bubble at an official London hotel to being on an ‘all-inclusive cruise’.

All players are allowed to bring three people with them to form a bubble. Miss Konta chose fiance Jackson Wade, her coach Dan Smethurst and her strength and conditioning coach Gill Myburgh.

A post on the Wimbledon Twitter account said: ‘Our heartfelt sympathies are with Johanna. We hope to see her on court soon as possible.’

But Miss Swan, the first British woman to qualify for the Championships for 20 years, has proved she is every inch the Marvel.

The 22-year-old from Bristol swept through the qualifiers at Roehampton last week to secure her way in to the tournament’s main draw. Miss Swan, who is represented by Andy Murray’s 77 sports agency, was emotional after securing her spot, having been plagued with injuries. ‘I can’t believe it right now,’ she said on court after her win. ‘I can’t tell you how happy I am.’

The world No 290 has played in the women’s singles three times after being given a wildcard, getting to the second round in 2018. But this time she fought her way in, beating Australia’s Arina Rodionova on Friday. She faces American Madison Keys, world No 26, tomorrow. The last British woman to qualify was Karen Cross in 2001.

 

 

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The move is one of many strict measures introduced to create what is a called a ‘minimised risk environment’ for the players, officials and spectators.

The championships, which start tomorrow, have been given the go-ahead after being cancelled last year for the first time since the Second World War. The two-week tournament will be a pilot event in the third phase of the Government’s Events Research Programme.

Player Jo Konta has been withdrawn from the competition after coming into close contact with a positive Covid-19 case. 

The tournament confirmed: ‘The Referee’s Office has advised that Johanna Konta (GBR) has been withdrawn from the Ladies’ Singles Draw, having been classified as a close contact of a positive test for COVID-19.

‘In line with government legislation, Konta is required to spend 10 days in self isolation.’

Following the withdrawal of Miss Konta: Her position on line 8 will be replaced by lucky loser Yafan Wang (CHN).’ 

Overall capacity at the All England Lawn Tennis Club has been cut by half to just 21,000 spectators a day, but Centre Court will still be able to seat full crowds of around 15,000 for the women’s and men’s finals.

The queue for tickets has been scrapped, with all tickets being sold online and fans being held in a virtual queue instead. That means camping at Wimbledon Park to be first in line has also been scrapped.

Hundreds normally stay overnight in the park – across the road from the site – and in 2019 it was packed with spectators and their tents and picnic chairs. Players will undergo ‘rigorous daily testing and monitoring’ – along with the ball boys and girls and umpires.

Spectators are expected to show proof of a negative Covid test taken within 48 hours or full vaccination certification. Visitors aged 11 and older will need to wear masks when moving around. The onsite creche, which has proved popular with many players including mother-of-one Serena Williams, will not be open this year.

Players who would normally rent out luxury homes close to the site now have to stay in a hotel in central London and are banned from venturing out.

They will be in bubbles with their close contacts and will remain so at the hotel, at the club and when they are ferried to matches by the club’s official transport.

Anyone found breaching the strict measures, which prevent players from even popping out for a meal, could face disqualification.

Serena Williams during a press conference on Sunday. The tennis great, more used to a packed room, talks to reporters over the Internet instead

Serena Williams during a press conference on Sunday. The tennis great, more used to a packed room, talks to reporters over the Internet instead

Serena Williams during a press conference on Sunday. The tennis great, more used to a packed room, talks to reporters over the Internet instead

‘We would take it on a case by case basis, but we have set up some strong rules,’ said Miss Dite. ‘All of the players have signed an agreement to follow the rules of participation.’ British No 1 Johanna Konta compared living in the bubble to being on an ‘all-inclusive cruise’.

The star, who has a home in Wimbledon, said it was ‘odd’ to have to drive past her front door to get to the club.

But despite her two dogs not being allowed in her bubble, she said it was a ‘small price to pay to be able to play again at Wimbledon’.

Serena’s £71 anti-virus mask dress is a smash hit 

By Inderdeep Bains 

She is the Queen of Wimbledon – with seven singles titles under her belt.

Now Serena Williams is serving up fashion winners with her new clothing range which features an anti-Covid frock.

The US tennis star modelled the dress, with a built-in mask, for her brand S by Serena.

Without mask: Serena Williams shows off new frock

Without mask: Serena Williams shows off new frock

With mask: Covering rolls up from neck

With mask: Covering rolls up from neck

Serena Williams shows off new frock

The mother-of-one posted a picture online, saying: ‘I am staying sexy with a bit of protection this summer.’ When the mask is not being used it can be rolled down and becomes a fashionable cowl neck.

Miss Williams said the £71 dress, which is non-returnable, is ‘going fast’. It comes in four colours in sizes from XS to XXXL. Loose Women presenter Nadia Sawalha, 56, has already been snapped wearing the frock. Miss Williams, 39, who is married to Reddit website co-founder Alexis Ohanian, said yesterday it was great to be back at the championship, which was cancelled last year due to Covid.

She said of Wimbledon: ‘It’s the only grand slam that is so unique and so different.’

The star, whose seven titles is only bettered by Martina Navratilova’s nine in the modern era, plays Aliaksandra Sasnovich, of Belarus, tomorrow.

Game, set and Insta match! Wimbledon starts this week but the battle to be women’s champ of social media is hotting up. So just who is aceing it off court? 

By Beth Hale for the Daily Mail  

Tennis stars used to put in the hard graft on the court and reaped the rewards based on their triumphs.

But these days becoming a sporting success story appears to require far more than on-court athleticism.

A glossy Instagram page, it would seem, can wield almost as much power as the right racquet. Especially when it’s crammed with shots off the tennis court, posing with private jets/yachts/in bikinis. Oh, and an obligatory shot by the Eiffel Tower.

With the action ready to roll at SW19, we take a look at the female competitors vying to take game, set and Insta-match.

THE SOCIAL SUPERSTAR

Serena Williams has 73 titles and £67 million in winnings, with 13.3 million Instagram followers and 1,725 posts

Serena Williams has 73 titles and £67 million in winnings, with 13.3 million Instagram followers and 1,725 posts

Serena Williams has 73 titles and £67 million in winnings, with 13.3 million Instagram followers and 1,725 posts

Who? The seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams, number six seed, hasn’t won a Grand Slam since 2017 and turns 40 this year, but woe betide anyone who doubts her drive to win.

Court clout: With 73 titles and £67 million in winnings, she’s in a league of her own.

Off-court prowess: Serena’s list of endorsements and partnerships is longer than most rallies. She has her own clothing and jewellery brands and a venture capital firm, and recently signed a production deal with Amazon Studios. No wonder £24.2 million of Serena’s £27.2 million earnings from 2019 to 2020 landed away from the court.

Insta-stats: 13.3 million followers and 1,725 posts; she’s smashing it out of the park.

Plug alert: There are almost as many plugs on Serena’s Insta as balls at SW19 — Nike, Stuart Weitzman shoes, Gatorade, Wheaties breakfast cereal, kitchen design, beer, luggage . . .

Travelling in style: Serena’s got the whole array of private jets, luxury yachts and smart cars on her page, but when you are a financial backer of a private jet hire company and have a deal with Lincoln cars, why not utilise the fleet and show the world how far it can get you? Cue Eiffel Tower shot.

Keeping it in the family: ‘I’m Olympia’s mom,’ reads the athlete’s Insta tagline — and three-year-old Olympia (who has her own Instagram account) makes regular appearances on her mum’s account as, less frequently, does husband Alexis Ohanian.

Bikini power: Black one-piece, pink one-piece, twinning in pink with Olympia, Serena’s sporty physique is ever-present.

CUTE COCO KEEPS IT COOL

Who? If she looks familiar, it’s because Coco Gauff, number 20 seed, made history at Wimbledon in 2019, when, aged 15, she defeated Venus Williams in straight sets.

Court clout: She has got two singles titles in the bag, and has totted up £1.2 million in court earnings.

Off-court prowess: Still just 17, she’s been predicted to earn £20 million in endorsements before she is out of her teens and has deals with New Balance and racquet-maker Head.

Insta-stats: She’s got 682,000 followers and 109 posts.

Plug alert: ‘I’m just a kid who has some pretty big dreams,’ she says — if those dreams involve name-dropping her biggest sponsor, New Balance, from timeto time, who can blame her?

Travelling in style: No yachts or jets — in fact, you’re more likely to see Coco keeping active and trying abseiling. Or showing off her trainers at the Eiffel Tower.

Keeping it in the family: ‘Family over everything,’ says down-to-earth Coco.

Bikini power: Only if you count swimming with turtles in the Bahamas.

CANADIAN GLAMAZON

Canadian Bianca Andreescu has totted up more than £5million and won the U.S. open in 2019. She has 674,000 followers and 335 posts

Canadian Bianca Andreescu has totted up more than £5million and won the U.S. open in 2019. She has 674,000 followers and 335 posts

Canadian Bianca Andreescu has totted up more than £5million and won the U.S. open in 2019. She has 674,000 followers and 335 posts

Who? 21-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who’s the number five seed.

Court clout: She’s totted up more than £5 million, and won the U.S. Open in 2019.

Off-court prowess: Deals thought to be worth more than £2 million with Head and Nike, as well as luxury Swiss watch brand Rolex, and Gatorade.

Insta-stats: 674,000 followers, 335 posts.

Plug alert: Mattresses, toilet tissue, nail polish; it’s a diverse mix on Bianca’s page.

Travelling in style: Private jet? Tick. Fast car? Tick.

Keeping it in the family: Bianca showers glamorous mum Maria with praise.

Bikini power: She’s confident enough to let fans see her in an array of two-pieces but is just as happy posing in ripped jeans at, you guessed it, the Eiffel Tower.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE . . . ON A JET

American Sofia Kenin, 22, has 212,000 Instagram followers and 301 posts, with £5.5million in court winnings so far

American Sofia Kenin, 22, has 212,000 Instagram followers and 301 posts, with £5.5million in court winnings so far

American Sofia Kenin, 22, has 212,000 Instagram followers and 301 posts, with £5.5million in court winnings so far

Who? Last year’s Australian Open champion, 22-year-old American Sofia Kenin, ranked as number four seed.

Court clout: With £5.5 million in court winnings so far, and one Grand Slam in the bag, she’s got SW19 in her sights.

Off-court prowess: She’s netted a volley of new deals with KT Tape and Motorola, as well as a private jet company.

Insta-stats: 212,000 followers, 301 posts.

Plug alert: The Russian-born U.S. star namechecks her main sponsor Fila.

Travelling in style: She became a brand ambassador for private jet enterprise JetToken in April, and was soon posing up a storm on her first flight.

Keeping it in the family: Her parents moved from the Soviet Union to New York in the late 1980s with little money, and her father, Alex, worked nights as a taxi driver. He was his daughter’s coach, until she announced the end of their professional relationship, on Instagram, in May.

Bikini power: ‘I’m just a beachy kinda girl,’ she says in a tiny two-piece. But she is just as happy in a city setting — check her out at the Eiffel Tower.

BELARUSIAN BIG HITTER

Aryna Sabalenka, 23, has deals with Wilson and Nike and has 223,000 followers and 426 posts. She has ten singles titles and nearly £6million in winnings

Aryna Sabalenka, 23, has deals with Wilson and Nike and has 223,000 followers and 426 posts. She has ten singles titles and nearly £6million in winnings

Aryna Sabalenka, 23, has deals with Wilson and Nike and has 223,000 followers and 426 posts. She has ten singles titles and nearly £6million in winnings

Who? Number two seed Aryna Sabalenka, 23, from Belarus is one of the more vocal (think screams and grunts) women players.

Court clout: Ten singles titles and nearly £6 million in winnings.

Off-court prowess: She has deals with Wilson and Nike.

Insta-stats: 223,000 followers and 426 posts.

Plug alert: She gives Nike the odd name drop, but Aryna’s more about glam selfies (in front of the Eiffel Tower, of course).

Travelling in style: No Grand Slam wins, but Aryna posted a picture of herself next to a private jet as she arrived to play at Eastbourne last week.

Keeping it in the family: She loves to share pictures of her younger sister and her dad, who died suddenly, aged 43, two years ago.

Bikini power: Leaping in the air in a bikini, laying back in a one-piece, she’s not shy about displaying her tanned limbs.

TIKTOK’S DANCING QUEEN

Who? Ukrainian blonde Elina Svitolina, 26, has claimed some big scalps but no Grand Slams. She’s the number three seed.

Court clout: She’s clocked up £14 million in prize money and 15 singles titles, and reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2019.

Off-court prowess: In 2020, she was the 7th highest-paid female athlete in the world, earning £4.6 million.

Insta-stats: 749,000 followers and 1,041 posts.

Plug alert: Her Insta is littered with plugs for sponsors Nike, Wilson, Superior Golf and Spa Resort and Hublot watches.

Travelling in style: Elina likes to strike a pose on her international travels on a yacht, a private jet or in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Keeping it in the family: She’s engaged to fellow player Gael Monfils, although he barely features on her Insta-gallery.

Bikini power: Let’s just say she’s not camera shy (check out her TikTok dance moves).

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