2018 Australian Open
Victoria Azarenka returns after a long absence to gear up for her grass court season

The entrants for the 2018 Australian Open were announced today and one notable missing name was Victoria Azarenka. The Belarussian had been out of action for a while for personal reasons. Azarenka has been in a custody dispute involving her son, Leo, with a court order limiting her traveling. She had returned to tour during the grasscourt season, following the birth of her son, but played just two events before stepping off again.

2018 Australian Open
Azarenka will miss the final slam of the year due a custody battle over her son Leo

The Belarusian had entered the warmup event in Auckland, indicating she planned to return at the beginning of next season. But that appearance also now seems in doubt. Serena Williams is among the entries for the Australian Open, having said she intends to return to tour just a few months following childbirth herself. She is the defending champion at the event, but has not played since her victory there.

Azarenka parted ways with her coach Michael Joyce last week. The pair worked together when she returned to the tour following her maternity leave. Unfortunately the former World No.1’s comeback has been interrupted due to family issues, which saw her withdraw from the US Open.

Joyce said in a statement, “Vika is an extremely talented player. While I am excited to see her return to tennis, I encourage and respect her decision to put her family first. It is with deep regret that I have decided to move forward with my coaching career while she continues to work out her private life. I look forward to seeing her on the tour soon and wish her the best of luck.”

The Belarusian will begin her 2018 season at the ASB Classic in Auckland. But she has not played since competing at Wimbledon in July. A chance of performing well in Auckland looks slim and she will be missed at the 2018 Australian Open.

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