The two-time champion at Melbourne Park has suffered a number of setbacks throughout her career and missed last year’s event because of a custody battle over her young son, Leo.
While Azarenka eventually won that battle, her 7-6(5), 4-6, 2-6 loss to German Laura Siegemund clearly rattled the Belarusian.
But while Azarkena suggested the loss was a “shitty” way to start 2019 it was a question regarding her resilience that left her fighting back tears.
“I’ve been through a lot of things in my life and sometimes I wonder why I go through them,” Azarenka wept.
“But I think they’re going to make me stronger and I’m going to work hard for it.
“Sometimes I just need a little time and patience and a little support.”
Azarenka’s 2014 season was cruelly done over by injury, which led to a bout of depression.
And with her pregnancy and custody battle keeping her off the tour for the best part of the last two years, Azarenka believes she’s still adjusting to the tempo of grand slam tennis.
“I have improved, I’m just really struggling to do it in the matches. It’s just not coming together,” she said.
“It’s really disappointing.
“I need to continue to work hard to try and find a solution but I’m struggling right now to do that.
“It’s not easy to sit here and be positive but I don’t have another choice. I worked hard and I was prepared well but sitting here is disappointing but you’ve got to keep going.
“It’s not going to stop me, after today. No matter how much it hurts, I have to learn from it. I’ve never really learned how to struggle before so maybe it’s a lesson but it’s disappointing.”
Meanwhile, in the men’s side of the draw, Nick Kyrgios was also knocked out in the opening round. The Australian player was up against Canada’s Milos Raonic and lost 4-6, 6-7, 4-6.
Kyrgios committed more unforced errors (14-8) and double-faults (2-1) and, incredibly, did not bring up a single break-point chance. This is the first time Kyrgios has been knocked out of the Australian Open in the first round. As a result of this loss, he will drop from 52 to 68 in the ATP rankings.