Belarusian Victoria Azarenka has already tasted what it is like to be world number one in the women’s game and has joined the elite list of becoming a Grand Slam champion. She became the first ever player from Belarus to win a Grand Slam. Azarenka started gaining notoriety through her early professional career for a lack of temperature control, her emotions spilling out onto the court. However, with that passion and aggression harnessed, she has let her tennis do the talking and has become a much feared and respected player on the WTA circuit.
Azarenka was born in Minsk, Belarus in 1989 and took a move to the United States when she was sixteen. She was first introduced to tennis when she was seven years old by her mother. But it perhaps the influence of her grandmother which has had the biggest bearing on her career. it was Azarenka’s grandmother who persuaded Victoria to continue playing when she wanted to take a break to pursue her education. Azarenka is fluent in English, Russian and Belarusian, with knowledge of French and Ukrainian as well.
WTA and Grand Slam History
As is the route for many players, Azarenka first started plying her trade on the ITF, the junior circuit of women’s tennis after turning profesioonal in 2003. She stayed there for three years, winning a couple of junior Grand Slams (the US Open and the Australian Open) along the way and she finished the 2005 season as the top ranked junior on the ITF. During her ITF years, she did make her first ever semi final appearance on the WTA Tour, hitting the last four in Guangzhou after coming through qualification.
Azarenka was still putting in hard ground work during 2006 and 2007, but she did start 2007 inside the world’s top 100 ranked players. There was progress coming for her in Grand Slams, reaching the third round of Wimbledon and the Australian Open and the fourth round of the US Open. After a busy year, which included a win over Maria Sharapova in their first ever coming together, Azarenka was inside the world’s top thirty players. The wait for a title on the WTA still was ongoing though.
It finally came in 2008 in the final of the Brisbane International, where she beat Marion Bartoli. This was the first title for Azarenka on the WTA coming in what was her fifth tournament final. Also during the year there was a massive win over Serena Williams at the Sony Ericsson Open in Florida, her first ever Premier Mandatory event tile. By this stage she was firmly ensconced inside the top ten players in the world. 2010 though was tough for Azarenka, suffering with injury and failing to make an impact in the Grand Slams at all. It was then she pondered taking a break to pursue education.
It was wise move to stick with the game as she became a growing force still on the WTA. She hit the semi finals of Wimbledon in 2011, her best ever Grand Slam result, before taking her maiden Grand Slam title at the 2012 Australian Open. Effective from the end of January 2012, Azarenka was crowned world number one, and in the same year she went back to the semi finals of Wimbledon and the final of the US Open. With missed opportunities there, Azarenka successfully defended her Australian Open title in early 2013