It was last year January, the Belarusian had a first-round loss in Auckland, the warm-up tournament for the Australian Open. There were child custody issues and playing tournaments outside the country were blocked by the judicial courts.
But this time it has been some hints of possible retirement for Victoria Azarenka, yet the personal issues have loomed large that this will cause her absence at the 2020 Australian Open. Azarenka's situation had started after the birth of son Leo and her separation from his father that court issues were introduced back in 2017.
It was last year in 2018 that her tennis participation was curtailed due to the custody issues and her not being able to leave the country. "I've been through a lot of things in my life...I think they're going to make me stronger.
I want to believe that...Right now it's a harder struggle for me..." Azarenka had tearfully professed. It was by April of 2018 she returned on tour at the Madrid Open, in Rome, it was the Italian Open and then the French Open.
At Madrid, she'd go to the 2nd round and Rome and the French Open having first-round losses. The rhythm and consistency were trying to come together as she made it to the final pairing with Jamie Murray in Mallorca's mixed doubles.
The U.S. Open she would go to the 3rd round losing to Sloane Stephens in straight sets and only going to the quarterfinals at Tokyo. She was at least playing and wondered what would the next season be like. New year, new rules most players want to comply with and Azarenka is no different.
This year she did play the Australian Open but bowed to Laura Siegemund in the opening round. The Belarusian was determined to keep up her fight and a few months later won the Mexican Open with doubles partner Zheng Saisai.
She'd carried some confidence in her performances getting into the final of the Monterrey Open in April but unfortunately, a leg injury forced her to retire to Garbine Muguruza. Azarenka's tour started being plagued with injuries as she suffered from her shoulder at Stuttgart and the Wuhan Open.
Vika did create a blistering upset in her singles game when she defeated the no. 4 ranked Elina Svitolina in dramatic fashion. She went on to get together with Ashleigh Barty in doubles where they captured their first doubles title together at the Italian Open.
They paired again where they claimed victory over the top seed double team of Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic in the semifinal making it through to the U.S. Open doubles final but was dismantled by the sparking team of Aryna Sabalenka and Elise Mertens.
Vika hasn't played since then and it is hopeful that the custody issues will be resolved quickly. Azarenka hasn't won a singles title in three years. She is currently ranked no. 50 in singles and hopes that due to the personal issues her ranking won't fall very far from that.
There is so much that goes into creating wins and most likely her personal issues will be straightened out. There is talk that she'll be back on tour after the Australian Open, leaving fans and the tennis community hopeful that this will be the case.
But until then, straightening out her issues, keeping herself fit to make the comeback to tennis along with keeping son Leo happy will be a huge balancing act to perform in her time and her way.