January 22, 2018

Victoria Azarenka Gets a Wild Card for the Australian Open

Victoria Azarenka Gets a Wild Card for the Australian Open


Photo

Victoria Azarenka during a first-round match at Wimbledon in July. She has not played a tournament since then because of a custody dispute with her son’s father.

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Tim Ireland/Associated Press

The Australian Open, which begins next month in Melbourne, will award a wild card to Victoria Azarenka, a former No. 1 player whose ranking has dropped to No. 210.

A two-time Australian Open women’s singles champion from Belarus, Azarenka has played only two official tournaments in the past 19 months.

Azarenka gave birth to her first child, a son named Leo, in December 2016 and returned to the circuit at a grass-court event in Mallorca, Spain, in June 2017.

She lost in the second round and then reached the fourth round at Wimbledon. She has not played a tournament since then because of a legal dispute over child custody with Leo’s father, Billy McKeague. According to Azarenka, she is not allowed to travel with her son outside of California until the case is resolved.

“Vika’s current situation is obviously very difficult for her, and we have reached out to offer any support we can,” said Craig Tiley, the Australian Open tournament director, in a statement.

It is unclear whether Azarenka would be able to travel to Australia with Leo. During her latest break from competitive tennis, she has split with her coach, Michael Joyce, and her fitness trainer, Ashcon Rezazadeh. She has yet to announce replacements. Joyce is now coaching Johanna Konta, a top-10 player.



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