Former world number one Victoria Azarenka is one of the few mothers on the WTA Tour and she opens up about her struggles.
Azarenka is no stranger to top flight tennis, having racked up two grand slam titles and spent many years ranked in top ten. But in December 2016 she gave birth to her first child, Leo, and everything changed.
Now, after a lengthy hiatus and taxing custody battle, Azarenka has fought her way back into the top 100.
“Physically, I’m better than I’ve ever been…I’m in the best shape of my life, which is kind of interesting,” the Belarusian told the press after her win at the Rogers Cup on Tuesday.
“He inspires me to be able to do what I love to do. My parenting is to be a good example, and to show him what it’s like to be hard-working, disciplined, determined, what it’s like to chase after your dreams, and what it’s like to be humble.
“I definitely have no doubt that I can be better and play better. You gain certain things you might not have had. Having a kid forces you to be organized, disciplined, patient. Those things are hard to master in an individual sport, so it forced me to have a different perspective, and how to handle different situations. I don’t think I would have been able to do that if I hadn’t had my son.”
While little Leo is an inspiration for his mother, he also represents many challenges for her as well.
“As much as I’m happy to have and be with my son, it’s such a struggle to be able to manage your work and take those hours away from him,” Azarenka continued.
“For me, it’s the biggest challenge. I don’t want to leave him for one minute. I’ve been struggling myself with realizing what it is that I like to do, that I enjoy. I’ve completely forgotten what that’s like.
“It is a different moment, and it’s very difficult for women when they become mothers. Your body changes, and so does your mind, and you have different priorities. For women, you become very secondary. That can be hard sometimes.”
Azarenka is still looking for her first title as a mother, with her best result of the year being a semi-final appearance in Miami.