British tennis player Johanna Konta has been coming to New York City to play in the US Open since 2012, and to this day, this tournament is one of her favorite Grand Slams. "There's always a hum of the city," she explains over breakfast (specifically a three-egg omelet with peppers, onions, and mushrooms, with a side of potatoes and wheat toast) at the Loews Regency Hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side. "I remember being at Ashe during a couple of the night session, and the planes are going, you can hear the train in the back, you can hear people chatting, you can hear music playing. There's definitely none of the analogy that you can hear the penny drop or anything, so it's very different."
The noise isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. "It's one of those environments if you use it the right way, it gives you that buzz," Konta explains, "and you feed off that." But no tennis player can be fueled by the energy of New York City alone, and Konta seemed just as excited about the food in New York as the tennis (especially pizza from Rubirosa). So I spoke Konta about what a professional tennis player eats for breakfast, eating more carbs, and earning the approval of beloved British baking hero Mary Berry.
Extra Crispy: We were talking about how you like to eat a complete breakfast every day, so what does that mean to you? What does a complete breakfast look like?
Johanna Konta: It will always feature some form of eggs. So like I said when we were sitting, I like to vary how I make my eggs. Sometimes I will have boiled, sometimes poached, sometimes scrambled, omelets. I really try to mix that up because it can get a bit boring, but then I really enjoy fresh fruit. I've got into a good habit of having berries, and I actually like having it with goat's milk yogurt. I find it, for me, a bit lighter, and it digests a bit better for me than normal cow's milk yogurt.
I work with a nutritionist, and he's told me off a couple times because I generally don't get enough carbs in, so I'm trying to make sure I'm having some toast, here in New York, bagels more than anything else. And really try to make sure I get enough of a carb intake to prepare me for my training, for the day, just physical activity for the day.
I also have my supplements that I take. So I take some vitamins in the morning, as well. I take, it's called CherryActive. It's an antioxidant, it's basically a cherry extract that's quite high in antioxidants, and that helps me with just immune support and general health. I try to make sure I get most of my things from my food that I'm eating, but I also know that I need sometimes a little extra. Omegas, vitamin C.
You also have a grueling travel schedule. You mentioned that you're on the road 30 weeks a year?
So how do you find that routine when you're just traveling all the time?
Well, just be adaptable. I think it's very important to roll with the punches a bit, because a lot of places, you won't necessarily find what you really want. Now the things that I mentioned before, that's my ideal scenario, so that's what I was able to do at home, during Wimbledon, when I got to stay at home, and I had complete control over what I was making. When you go to certain places, it makes it a bit difficult, but then coming here to New York, staying at a place like the Loews Regency, it makes it that much simpler.
You also mentioned that you recently bought a new apartment, and you've started baking muffins? What's your go-to muffin recipe?
I always wanted to just bake. I always wanted to try it, and I never really had the time nor the chance, the opportunity. I don't really have an oven. [Laughs] So when that happened, I committed. I basically got what I needed, I got my mixing bowls, my sieves, my measuring cups.
It took a couple goes to find the recipe that works for me. I use one that only uses one egg. I use one that uses sunflower oil, and it's really good because it's a good combination of being moist, it rises well, and I've just been trying different ingredients. So I did a white chocolate raspberry one, I did milk chocolate chip and banana. I did just a cinnamon and nutmeg one, so I'm powering on, I'm powering through.
Anything else on the baking agenda?
Well, I'm now hoping to graduate into baking cakes. I have this vision that once I become a mother, I want to be able to bake my kid's birthday cakes. I've been training. Basically, once you train your whole life, I think I'm going to approach motherhood like my tennis career. I think it's quite worrying, actually. [Laughs] Schedule! We're going to schedule. The kids are like, 'No.'
US Open first, then baking cakes. And then we'll see you on the Great British Bake-Off.
I'm all over that. [Laughs]
Do you watch GBBO?
I actually haven't, but since I've found my own passion for baking, I think I will now. Do you know Mary Berry?
She was super kind, she sent me her cookbook and wrote a note to me and basically wished me luck on my journey to baking perfection. So I will be working very hard to make her proud. [Laughs]