Australian Open 2023 | Victoria Azarenka mum to son Leo, semi-final vs Elena Rybakina


Alicia Molik was a tennis star earlier than she turned a mum and might’t think about combining the 2 roles, by no means thoughts doing it as efficiently as tennis’ supermum Victoria Azaranka.

The 2-time Australian Open champion will take the court docket on Thursday night time in opposition to Elena Rybakina with an enormous probability of successful her technique to Saturday night time’s closing – a decider during which she might make historical past in quite a lot of methods.

Ought to she win the event, Azarenka will be part of a membership with simply three girls in it – the moms to have received a grand slam singles title – which is presently occupied by Margaret Court docket, Evonne Goolagong Cawley and most lately Kim Clijsters.

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She would additionally set a brand new mark for the most important hole between main titles within the open period, having not tasted grand slam success since her back-to-back Australian Open titles in 2012 and 2013. That 10-year hole would smash the present Open period document set by Virginia Wade, who had a five-and-a-half 12 months hole between slams when she received Wimbledon in 1977.

Simply having a practical probability to attain these extraordinary feats of human achievement is one thing particular, but maybe much more extraordinary is Molik’s declare that she’s a greater participant now than she was when she was arguably the most effective participant on this planet in 2012 and 2013, earlier than she gave delivery to son Leo in December 2016.

“I believe she’s taking part in higher than when she received her couple of titles right here on the Australian Open,” Molik informed Broad World of Sports activities’ The Morning Serve.

“She’s taking part in for extra, everyone knows now she’s a mom and the appreciation too, I believe while you’re out of the sport, and he or she’s been out with a few accidents up to now, however for an extended time frame via the delivery of her son, and elevating a younger household, and I believe she’s embracing each second that she has on centre court docket.

“She’s beefed up her recreation, that is the most important distinction I noticed together with her, she’s put in a giant pre-season as a result of there is not any query she’s getting much more on the ball than in every other 12 months.

“She’s taking part in extra aggressively and what a match it was in opposition to her nice mate in Jessica Pegula [in their quarter final] and he or she actually did get rid of her fairly comfortably.”

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Azarenka’s return after motherhood – The Morning Serve Day 11

Already Azarenka has had a wonderful second part of her profession. She took time away from tennis when she gave delivery to Leo and was unable to return full-time to the WTA tour till 2018, after a messy cut up with Leo’s father Billy McKeague led to a protracted custody battle.

By 2019 she had returned to the world’s prime 50 and made a run to the US Open doubles closing together with Aussie Ash Barty.

And the comeback was full in 2020, when she broke again into the world’s prime 15 and took the primary set off Naomi Osaka within the US Open girls’s singles closing, earlier than falling to the Japanese celebrity 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Now, on the age of 33, Azarenka is in a powerful place to go one higher, and elevate her legacy as a three-time main winner – possible trumping her earlier main wins if just for the truth that she’d be doing it in entrance of her six-year-old son.

Molik stated the instance she was setting would give younger ladies who need to play tennis an important function mannequin for what their life as skilled tennis gamers might appear like.

How Azarenka conquered ‘concern’, ‘nervousness’

”It is the norm now and there are much more gamers, which, how fantastic, for ladies, for younger ladies to know you can mix household and prime degree sport,” Molik stated.

“And in a method I actually do assume that gamers who now have kids, it retains them degree. It maybe takes among the limelight off among the robust losses in sport as a result of there’s at all times one thing to occupy your thoughts, however for Victoria Azarenka, fairly exceptional that she’s again and higher than ever.”

Molik added that being a mom might have truly helped Azarenka’s tennis, attributable to the truth that it supplied her perspective and ensured her thoughts was on different issues other than the game when she was away from the court docket.

”You’ve got obtained garments to clean, you have obtained bedtime tales to learn, you have to preserve the children entertained, you have to get dinner prepared, you have obtained to consider breakfast,” she stated.

“All of the issues and distractions, and that is the wonderful stability for tennis gamers, they have to be within the second, they have to be revved up for his or her matches, however there is a stability of getting calm down and unwind time and taking your thoughts off the sport.

“However what a competitor she is and he or she’s by no means misplaced that, Victoria Azarenka. So phenomenal efficiency for her up to now to get to the semis, she’s simply getting began.”

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