National Championships set to return after 18 years

Anne Keothavong

The National Championships will return to the British tennis calendar this year for the first time since 2002.

The LTA says it plans to stage an event for the leading men, women, juniors and wheelchair players “at some point this year”.

The championships were scrapped because of dwindling interest.

Plans are at a very early stage, but the tournament is expected to be staged at an indoor venue this autumn.

With the resumption of the ATP and WTA Tours still some way away, there is the potential for strong fields in all the events.

Former world number one Andy Murray could face top-50 players in Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund, while Johanna Konta may have competition from Heather Watson and Katie Boulter.

The LTA would like to make the event a permanent fixture once again, but it will be extremely challenging to attract the top players once a full international calendar resumes.

The current Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong and Alex Bogdanovic were the most recent winners of the National Championships in 2002.

With Tim Henman opting out later in his career, BBC TV ended its coverage in 1999.

Other domestic events could take place before the tournament.

Jamie Murray is keen to stage a men’s event around the time Wimbledon is usually held, and Britain’s top female players have been approached to take part in the British Closed Women’s Championships this summer.

Neither event could go ahead without LTA approval, which would depend on the government guidelines which emerge for the return of elite competition.

“The LTA is committed to ensuring that whatever events are staged, they take tennis to the widest possible audience and they focus on addressing the needs of our performance players,” read a statement from the governing body.

“We will also ensure they are sustainable for the growth of tennis in the long term and finally, in line with our responsibilities as the governing body of our sport, they are compliant with all the protocols necessary for the current situation.”

Meanwhile, Andy Murray was one of the first players on court when the National Tennis Centre re-opened its doors on Friday morning.

Anyone entering the site in Roehampton must first consult the doctor and have their temperature taken.

There can only be two players to a court, accompanied by one member of their respective teams.

Murray was pictured with brother Jamie and his coach Jamie Delgado as he celebrated his 33rd birthday with a return to training.

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