Victoria Azarenka Opens Up on Obstacles Faced During Custody Battle of Her Son

Published 05/01/2021, 5:30 AM EDT
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 9, 2021 Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka during her first round match against Jessica Pegula of the U.S. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy


Former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka has made several comebacks in her career. In 2017, her career reached rock bottom after a custody battle for her eight-month-old son made her miss a large chunk of the season. She eventually won his custody, but had several obstacles in her way from mid-2017 to early 2018.

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In a recent conversation with tennis legend Chris Evert, Azarenka revealed that there was quite a lot of uncertainty in her schedule; she had to make last-minute adjustments and never fully could commit herself to any tournament during the custody battle.

“There are times where I knew two days before the tournament that I can actually go and play the tournament. So organizing that you know and trying to regroup yourself was just the best you can do.”

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Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after match point. Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

On the other hand, Azarenka saw her rivals playing and doing better than her. In 2017, because of the custody hearings, Azarenka’s ranking fell all the way down to 208.

“I think the uncertainty in that way was something that I’m just not used to having somebody else control my life where I’m the one who always have done it, have my own schedule and stuff so for me, that was really difficult like not knowing what I’m gonna do.”

Victoria Azarenka on being low on confidence

Because of the custody battle, Azarenka had to withdraw from the 2017 US Open and the Fed Cup final (now called the Billie Jean Cup). At the few tournaments she took part in, she went there with almost zero practice and confidence.

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“I just never had the opportunity to give myself that opportunity to prepare to train. I always felt that my confidence knew that I haven’t done everything I could the way I want to the way I want to prepare and other players you know are stepping up and and training and having their full schedule and matches.”

From the lows of 2017, Azarenka has come back to be ranked among the elites. In 2020, she not only won WTA 1000 tournament in Cincinnati, but she also reached the US Open final only to lose to Naomi Osaka. Azarenka has often spoken about the positive effect motherhood has had on her, and how it has brought her back.

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Bhavishya Mittal

955 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.

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