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IWD: AO champion Sabalenka inspires young fan


As the achievements of women worldwide are celebrated on International Women’s Day, Aryna Sabalenka’s inspirational impact as a two-time Australian Open champion remains strong.

Young Hot Shots participant Ava was thrilled to receive the call that she would be meeting Sabalenka following the 25-year-old’s AO 2024 women’s singles victory.

After Sabalenka defended her title at Melbourne Park, she met Ava during her trophy shoot the following morning at the city’s iconic Carlton Gardens. 

Ava said she had no idea this moment was coming, until a phone call landed that sent her family into excited celebrations.

“When she came walking down that grass path, I was, like, gaping in shock,” said Ava of seeing Sabalenka approach with the champion’s trophy in front of the Royal Exhibition Building.

“I just didn’t know what to say, like, I was just so stunned.”

Ava eventually found her words and conducted an adorable interview with Sabalenka, asking the world No.2 about her inspirations, her greatest win and her words of advice.

Sabalenka has played just one match since her latest Grand Slam triumph, but returns to action this week at Indian Wells, where 12 months ago she reached the final.

She revealed it took “about a week” to descend from the high of winning a second career major title.

“I don’t like to focus on goals I was able to achieve. I like to move on and start getting ready for the next ones,” she said.

After a first-round bye, Sabalenka will take on either Elisabetta Cocciaretto or Peyton Stearns for a place in the last 32.