"Today I had my hardest fight and my very best victory!" Victoria Azarenka had said after giving birth to her son Leo in December of 2016. Things were going well for Azarenka back then but little did she know that the hardest fight might not have been the birth but dealing with the situations of custody over the son when she and the father, Billy McKeague broke off their relationship in July of 2017.
It was after the son's birth that McKeague filed for primary custody in Los Angeles and the proceedings was supposed to have been resolved by 2017, the latest, but both weren't able to agree on custody terms and because of this Azarenka can't take her son out of California to participate in tournaments or to partly go on tour.
Azarenka is from Belarus and was awarded primary custody of her son in the Belarus court system as well as a California judge is in favor of Azarenka, acknowledging that the case doesn't even belong in California or anywhere in the United States.
As for the ongoing custody battle and the ability for Azarenka to travel to tennis tournaments she was only able to play six matches so far. It was in June 2017 that she participated in the WTA Mallorca Open in Spain and was victorious in her opening round over Japan's Risa Ozaki winning in three sets.
The second round she wasn't so fortunate and lost to Ana Konjuh of Croatia in straight sets. Afterwards, she was given a wildcard to go to Wimbledon where she had made it into the semifinals in 2012 and 2013; her performance was much better as she went through to round four.
She had played the WTA Rising Star CiCi Bellis going through three tough sets with her to come out winning and then on to Russia's Elena Vesnina who she won in straight sets. She too on in the third round Brit's Heather Watson and went the 3-set distance.
But it was in the fourth round that she'd met with Romania's Simona Halep, an opponent who's top-ranking status was the ultimate for Azarenka causing her to lose in straight sets in July. There was the talk of possibly suing McKeague for material damages since the monies that Azarenka has lost were in the millions for not being able to participate in tennis events and her rankings had fallen into the 200s.
She had to withdraw from the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati and the US Open saying that "I am sadly unable to compete in this year's US Open due to my family situation that I am working through..." Azarenka had also missed the Belarus Fed Cup final with the USA in November 2017 because of her inability to travel out of California.
In preparation for the new 2018 season, she was given wild cards for the ASB Classic in Auckland and the Australian Open but had to withdraw from both because of her unavailability to travel out of California. She also was being coached by Michael Joyce before all of the family legal situations.
But because of the duration of the case, Joyce has joined Britain's Johanna Konta's team leaving no other choice but for Azarenka to consider another coach. She has hired Sacramento Stae coach Slava Konikov. Previously Azarenka has trained in Belarus where the facilities are a comfort for her and her family is there, before the court ruling of her not being able to leave California.
She requested a wild card recently from the Qatar Open in Doha and had accepted the invitation from organizers, a tournament that she's gotten the 2012 and 2013 titles there, but being no positive movement in the case, she withdrew.
Every tournament director wishes her well and hopes she'll be able to participate in their tournaments next year. The soon-to-come Indian Wells tournament has also given her a wild card, an event that she prospered and captured two titles in previous times.
The aspect of her playing there looks rather great because the event is in California where she can conveniently travel to and participate. Hopefully, she will do well there, feeling comforted that it is in California and that she has kept up her regime of practicing and staying in shape for future play.
She has indeed kept her fans still intent on seeing her play as well as the organizers wanting her to be at their tournaments, but all it takes is for the case to be resolved; Azarenka will then return on tour bringing her son and possibly nanny in tow.
She can enjoy her career and life again whether she'll have to dig herself up from a low ranking or use her protected ranking. Everyone wishes this to be the season she can return and enlighten the tour with her presence again putting all of the drama and anxiety behind her spirited shots on the tennis court.