Former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka, 27, is returning to competition at the WTA Mallorca Open on Tuesday with the game against Risa Ozaki, 23, (World No74) of Japan.
So why support Vika tonight?
1. Over a year without WTA
Victoria Azarenka hasn’t played in WTA tour for 390 days since May 2016 when she took time out to give birth to her first child Leo.
Her absence from the tour means she is without a world ranking and required a wild card to get into the Mallorca event which starts on Monday.
2. New coach and new technique
The Belarusian tennis star has a new team and a new top-level coach, who had previously coached Maria Sharapova and brought her to the top.
Hey guys! I would like to officially welcome my new coach Michael @mikejoyce73 to the team Vika. I’m very excited about our partnership!
— victoria azarenka (@vika7) March 12, 2017
Azarenka appointed Michael Joyce as her new coach in March. The new collaboration indicated that the player had begun to get back on court.
Joyce is a former ATP player, who peaked at a high of 64th in 1996. Since retiring from professional tennis, he coached Maria Sharapova between 2004- 2011.
To prepare for her comeback, Azarenka has been working as hard as ever – “a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” she joked – but also more smartly.
“We had more than the time of the off-season, and were able to implement some of the things that when you play are hard to change,” she explained at a press conference in Mallorca.
“So I worked a little bit on changing my technique, the biomechanics, to make sure that I can prolong my career.”
3. Top rival on baby leave
One more interesting point about Vika’s return is that it comes in the time when her long-time rival Serena Williams is… on a maternity leave!
While the twice Australian Open champion Azarenka resumes her career in Mallorca, Williams’s baby is due in September with the American to return next year.
— MallorcaOpen (@MallorcaOpen) June 16, 2017
Azarenka has four wins and 17 defeats against Williams, but is a step ahead of the American, as Vika once joked, with the baby.
So Victoria has half a season without her main rival to get back in shape before we see a future battle of the tennis mums.