It was her first two tournaments, one in Monterrey and the other the Top Seed Open in Kentucky that proved she needed work on her gameplay as first time coming out from a six month tour block. As tournament officials slated the Cincinnati event and the U.S.
Open to be played at the National Tennis Center in Flushing, players were uncertain of their quality of performance from the coronavirus hiatus. Despite living in the bubble for the first time in their careers, Victoria Azarenka did well her first time out.
She scored wins over Caroline Garcia, Johanna Konta and then captured the Cincinnati title due to Naomi Osaka's withdrawal due to a left hamstring injury.
She went into the US Open and her swagger continued with making it to the final.
It was again with Naomi Osaka but this time the rackets were reversed as the young Japanese won the title, her 2nd with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.
The Belarusian traveled to Rome and made it to the quarterfinals showing real strides on defeating Venus Williams, Sofia Kenin and Daria Kasatkina along the way. But it was Garbine Muguruza whose shots were ever stining that ended her time in Rome.
The Slams are that more important still and her appearnce at the French Open was a great time to make it good. It had been seven years ago she'd make it to the semifinal but this was a different French Open with the Pandemic influencing everyone.
The newer heavier balls, the bubble, the clay were all tangibles in the Paris City. A major factor since it is now played in October instead of May would be the weather. Cold, damp and drizzly, players had on thick jackets and Azarenka commented that "I don't want to feel cold if we can't play!" There were interruptions due to the cold with many not feeling the joy of a much lesser fanfare and playing on the diabolical clay.
But Azarenka is a trooper and won her first round over Danka Kovinic with a 6-1, 6-2 victory. But for the Belarusian whose luck and endurance for the change of weather and competitors took a nasty turn. Karolina Schmiedlova ranked no.
161 from Slovakia was too good for Azarenka and won over her in straight sets 6-2, 6-2. "I felt that I was trying a lot of different things but today things were not working. I still had to find a way to win and I didn't."
The idea of losing to a 100s plus ranked player may not be what the top 20 Azarenka had predicted but it is what it is and she enjoyed her long run with capturing a title and going deep enough to know her game and her emotions for the sport she's played since a child is still there and thriving for the next tournament whenever or wherever it will be.