Thanks for visiting the Australian Open Website. We can see you’re using Internet Explorer, and wanted to let you know that we will no longer be supporting this browser in future. We’d recommend you download a new browser if you'd like to continue keeping up with all of the latest tennis news!

Victoria Azarenka: “I love to better the tour for others”

  • Vivienne Christie

Combining her baseline aggression with bold competitive intensity and an unmistakable hint of swagger, Victoria Azarenka has long charted her own course in the women’s game.

Australian fans first witnessed Azarenka’s effective go-getting style as she defeated Agnes Szavay to win the AO 2005 girls’ title and combined with Marina Erakovic to lift the girls’ doubles trophy in the same year.

That trailblazing path continued with Azarenka’s back-to-back Australian Open triumphs in 2012 and 2013. Within that period, she became the first player from her nation to become a singles world No.1.

More than a decade on, the 34-year-old Azarenka is forging a path in other ways.

TICKETS: Cheer on Victoria Azarenka at Australian Open 2024

While much attention has focused on the former Australian Open champions who’ll return to Melbourne Park this year as mothers, Azarenka has successfully combined her tennis career with motherhood for years.

Her son, Leo, was born in 2016 and often travels with his mother to tournaments throughout the world.

There are only positives, Azarenka related as she launched her 2024 season at the Brisbane International, in seeing the likes of Naomi Osaka, Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber back on tour.

MORE: Nadal, Osaka, Kerber among stars making comebacks at AO 2024

RELATED: Wozniacki and six Aussies awarded first AO 2024 wildcards

“I'm very excited to see players are coming back,” smiled the world No.22, noting that women’s tennis is increasingly leading the way for all professional sports.

“I've said it few years ago already. I think we broke the stereotype that you be an athlete and have family. This definitely has been broken. It’s actually evolved more and more.

“The testament of that is how many players are feeling comfortable and confident coming back and continue being on tour.”

Azarenka, a prominent member of the WTA player council, identifies an opportunity for even further progress in the women’s game.

“I believe that we still have a lot more growth to do in that space to continue to push forward being a women's leading sport, how we can make our athletes feel more secure, more comfortable at all levels, not just top level, but also lower levels where they have that stability, financial security to keep coming back,” she pointed out.

IN FOCUS: The transformation of Rod Laver Arena

“I think we have an opportunity to do that in women's sports like maybe not before. I hope we put the right resources into that.”

While noting she’s “not the type of person to pat myself on the shoulder”, Azarenka instinctively understands her responsibility as a role model.

“For me what's important is, I always kind of look back to legends before my time, like Billie Jean King who fought for a better future for us,” said the 21-time WTA singles champion.

“I believe I would love to have not necessarily the legacy, but I love to take that part of my journey and to dedicate my time, influence, or opportunity to better the tour for others. I believe that's just my passion to do, as well.”

It’s a goal that’s helped by Azarenka’s enduring impact at the top of women’s tennis – and the former world No.1 is superbly positioned to add to her many achievements this month.

Alongside her multiple Australian Open triumphs, Azarenka is also a two-time Brisbane International champion, and has returned to the quarterfinals in Brisbane this week.

At Melbourne Park last year, she outclassed 2020 champion Sofia Kenin, as well as top-20 ranked Americans Madison Keys and Jessica Pegula – among others – to reach her first AO semifinal in a decade.

“Since I was a junior here, I kind of felt a good energy. I really love the crowd here (in Australia). I think the courts and the balls, they fit my game pretty well,” noted the Belarusian, who also relishes the fresh start of a new season.

“I think it's more fresh after the pre-season where you kind of have more of an exciting mindset rather than end of the year where you're sometimes maybe a little bit beat down,” she commented.

“After being at home and having some good time at home with family, I feel excited to come back and play.”