Former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka recently returned to the Belarus Fed Cup team after a hiatus caused by a custody battle with the father to her son Leo. After winning the doubles of the Fed Cup against Germany Azarenka had a heart-to-heart interview with journalists.
Summing up the Fed Cup results, relations in the national team and plans for the future.
Victoria, what’s your role in the team now?
In a team sport, your role isn’t so important. It is all about doing what is best for the team, and you need to think this way. Our team has grown a lot, and I’m proud to be a part of it. I’m really happy to see at what level the Belarusian tennis is now.
I hope that this trend won’t stop. We also take juniors to the tournaments with us. This is for them to see the world of tennis and have a chance to ask for advice from experienced players.
If it were necessary, would you play a singles match today? Did the fact that you were on the substitutes’ bench hurt your ego?
People are selfish. Sure, I don’t see myself as a player for a doubles match. I was ready to play a singles match, as I was nominated. I’m ready to play at any time when the team needs me.
My leader role slightly changed due to a big experience in the Fed Cup. I like that the girls in our team don’t make me do everything myself, as in the past. We can now face even bigger challenges.
What are the chances of Belarus to win the Fed Cup?
I’d say it’s important not to get ahead of ourselves but move from one match to another. There are many great teams in the tournament and the favorites happen to lose.
In 2017, we were very close to the title. We have opportunities, we have potential. We need to stay motivated and hungry for victories.
Do the upcoming Fed Cup semi-finals motivate you to develop your own game?
Sure, it’s great to perform in the semifinals. It’s an honor to me. Besides, today I’ve had the first match in the Fed Cup World Group. I had a long way to get there, and finally, I made it.
There’s a strong interest in our team at the moment. And we went all the way with sweat and blood. I’m very glad that we’ll have another chance to compete for the FedCup. I hope to play at home.
To play in Belarus one more time is the supreme goal for me
Apart from the victories of the Belarusian team, one of the most exciting moments was your training with Aryna Sobolenko. What was it like?
I don’t think it’s possible to draw conclusions on the warm-up before the match. But I was very pleased to play with Aryna. I’m also very pleased with her results. It motivates me and makes me play and train more diligently.
How was your week with the team?
I always enjoy being here. It’s nice to talk to the girls and the captain, to get some positive vibes. Sure, the victory brings feel-good emotions. Now we’re thinking about our rivals in the semifinals.
Who would you like to play against, the US or Australia?
Yes, I’m planning to do play the match. Both teams are interesting in their own way. I’d like to take revenge on the US.
Explore the topic:
Do you mean the defeat in the Fed Cup 2017 finals or the 0:5 defeat in 2012?
I didn’t play then, in 2012 … Turns out I never played with them. I’d like to compete one day. Moreover, our team has more chances to defeat the US now. In 2017, the final was spectacular.
It would be great to repeat, but this time – in our favor. The US has many players, so nobody knows their rivals. We haven’t met with the Australian team yet, so maybe we’ll have a home match.
What are your plans for the tour?
I’m going to play in Acapulco, Indian Wells, Miami and Monterrey.
There’s an exclusive YouTube video about your pre-season training. Is it your official YouTube channel?
Yes, it’s mine.
Do you promote the channel yourself?
Sure I don’t make videos of myself. My friend helps me. I think the fans are interested to see behind the scenes. I want to show my work, to show myself from the other side, different from the one that everyone sees when I’m on the court.
Fans worry: is Vika done, or will she return to the previous level?
I won’t do that. I wish the fans to support me in any situation. It’s easy to root for someone who wins and when some kind of trouble or defeat occurs…
I’m not trying to return to the former level. That would be my biggest mistake. I’m trying to reach a new level. I am not 22 now, I have a different understanding of the world.
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How do you cope with the gloom and bitterness of defeat?
It is not easy. But you need to move forward. Looking back and giving up is the easiest way. I never give up. This is one of my strengths as a player and as a person. I will fight on. I will do everything possible until it becomes uninteresting to me.
Describe your happiest day as a mother.
It is absolutely impossible to single out one day. With Leo, every day is the best. Leo is a very polite, gentle, and nice child. He loves his mother very much. When I talk to him on FaceTime, he says ‘mommy’ so sweet. When I hear him speaking to me this way, I can’t but smile.
There is a delicate question. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. The custody battle is going for about two years now. Is there any idea when it might end?
I’d rather not talk about it. This is personal. Can we not talk about this right now, okay?