Former World Number one, Victoria Azarenka once again voiced out about the treatment of pregnant athletes on the WTA Tour. On Wimbledon’s eve, Azarenka made a revelation that she was turned down by a sponsorship deal (she refused to reveal their name) when she announced her pregnancy in July 2016.
“No current ones, but I faced a situation that wasn’t pleasant,” Victoria Azarenka said. “We left them (due to pregnancy). It did not come out publicly, but we’ll see. It’s in the past – I don’t feel like bringing that up is going to change that.”
Presently, the Belarusian Olympic silver medalist, Victoria Azarenka is sponsored by the elite sports brand, Nike. They reshaped their policies for pregnant athletes and they have been extremely supportive.
The proficient tennis players of the 21st century, who are a part of the biggest women’s sporting platform are denied from maternity pay. “Women need to keep fighting,” Victoria Azarenka added. “We fight for equality every single day and I hope in the near future the demand for equality won’t be necessary. It will just be normal. I want to keep pushing the needle forward, and right now I think paid maternity leave is really important.”
She was amongst the top five tennis players in 2016 and that year, Azarenka claimed the ‘Sunshine Double’ in the United States and she became the third player after Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters to win the title in Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back.
Victoria Azarenka continued to emphasize the importance of maternity pay on the circuit and mammoth endeavors of the players which are involved in earning their daily bread.
“For tennis players, with our physicality the way we’re making money there is a need to take the break for pregnancy,” she said. “It is important – you need to feel secure for yourself to be able to have a family. Paid maternity leave is one of the biggest changes I would like to see because the WTA is the biggest women’s sport and has the opportunity to be a pioneer in that field. I hope we’re going to take that stance.”
Victoria Azarenka looks up to to the American legends, Billie Jean King, Venus, and Serena who brought major changes on the women’s circuit and which indeed is benefitting the generations of tennis after them. She believes it’s her time to make amendments on the women’s tour in order to establish equality.
“I have a lot more goals because, before me, there were people who made our lives a lot better in tennis with things like equal prize money. So now it’s our time to continue to do that and I’m going to try everything I can to make it happen,” Victoria Azarenka reflected.
The multiple-time Grand Slam champion, Azarenka feels winning major titles is as important as campaigning for equality and she prioritizes both her chores. “Well it’s both,” she said, being asked about her priorities. “I don’t think it’s one or the other. think they should come together. We are tennis players for a short part of our life but to be able to help the game to be better that’s the most important thing for sure.”