Victoria Azarenka returned to the semifinals of Australian Open after ten years. The last time was in 2013, when she won the title for the second consecutive edition. Sure, after the 6-4 and 6-1 against the American Jessica Pegulathird favourite, in Melbourne we don’t just talk about her for her tennis but because she takes the field wearing a jersey from Paris Saint-Germain.
The former world number one is an avowed fan of the French club, di Lionel Messi and the Argentina national team. Furthermore, he was one of the personalities of international sport who most suffered, enjoyed and celebrated the consecration of the Albiceleste team in Qatar World Cup.
“Everyone asks me why I wear the PSG shirt and they don’t know that I’ve been rooting for them since 2012, when (David Beckham signed with the club. I’ve been a fan for a long time and have gone to many matches” Azarenka said.
Obviously her love for him psg It was further strengthened in August 2021 when Messi joined the Paris squad. At that time, Vika shared instagram the image of the man from Rosario in jacket number 30, next to a heart.
“How was my love for Messi born? just watching him play. How it behaves on the pitch. He is so talented and so different from the rest of the players… I also like how humble he is,” he explained at the time.
And that predilection for the Argentine became a passion for the Argentina national team for several years. During the World Cup he followed the matches live and filled social networks with messages of support and admiration. And he also had the pleasure of watching the match live against Saudi Arabia and fulfill his dream of seeing Messi live in a World Cup.
“El Rey” tweeted in Spanish, along with a photo of the Albiceleste captain, after their round of 16 victory. “Good boy!” He celebrated after a 3-0 defeat by Croatia in the semi-final. And after the triumph in the final against France he didn’t hold back. “I’m crying,” he confessed for the first time. “Messi I love you forever”he added in Spanish. And in English highlighted the I drew: “Martínez, you are the boss.” And he closed the cascade of tweets with a photo of the whole team, with the cup raised and a simple “samples“.
Azarenka shares that passion for football, PSG and Messi with her son Leo, six years. And as he drove through Melbourne he confessed that he became a “soccer mom” (soccer mom).
“He is extremely obsessed with football. I told him football and he, football. It’s a debate we have,” she said with a laugh. “He wants to play for PSG, it’s his dream. He saw me wearing the shirt and now he’s wearing the same one. And it’s good enough. So now I’m a ‘soccer mom’. I am very annoying, I yell a lot, unashamed, but always very positive and supportive. I’m very proud of him,” she added.
Leo was born in December 2016 and is the number one priority in the life of the Belarusian. It’s more, vika putting his career on hold for nearly a season to focus on legal battle with the ex partner for custody of the child.
Is that after returning to the circuit in June 2017, after giving birth, she was able to play alone in Mallorca and Wimbledon before returning to the United States, because a California judge had imposed a restriction on her son to leave that state.
She was away from the courts until March 2018, when she reappeared at the age of 29. And it was difficult for her to recover her best level, which had taken her to world number one in mid-2012.
The struggle to return to the elite
With Leo as a new travel companion, vika determined to recover lost ground. But the journey has been postponed.
In early 2019, after crashing on debut in Australia, it broke at the press conference. “I’ve been through a lot. Sometimes I wonder why I have to go through this, but I guess it will make me stronger. I want to believe it and I will work for it. I just need time, patience and support“, she claimed through tears. Some time later she claimed it at the time thought about retiring.
That season was a sporting nightmare: he could not advance to the second week of any Grand Slam or accumulate more than three consecutive victories.
In a 2020 marked by the pandemic, he has begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel and has returned to playing at a high level, winning the Cincinnati WTA 1000 (his first title since 2016) and reaching the final of US Openwhich he lost with Naomi Osaka, and from Ostrava. And he ended the year on the 13th step of the standings, after coming close to 60th.
But in 2021 he had an uneven campaign (the Indian Wells final was his best result) and at the beginning of 2022 he confessed to experiencing moments of great stress in his personal life, which affected his tennis.
Also, in March, he started crying in the middle of a match at Indian Wells and weeks later he suddenly withdrew in the second round in Miami: when he was losing 6-2 and 3-0, at halftime, he packed his things, went to the locker room and never came back.
“I shouldn’t have taken the field. The last few weeks have been extremely stressful in my personal life. I wanted to go out and try, but it was a mistake,” he confessed. And he warned that he would be taking a “break” from tennis, which was short-lived, because just under two months later he returned.
“Today I enjoy and I am compassionate with myself”
After defeating Pegula and advancing to the semifinals in Melbourne, Azarenka was counting how much you have struggled with anxiety and fears in the past.
“Anxiety is not something you recognize immediately. It’s something that builds up until you get to such a bad point where nothing makes sense. You feel lost. I was at a point where I couldn’t find anything that made me feel good about myself, not even one line,” she said.
“Fear is connected to this. In my case, every time I set foot on a tennis court these two sensations awoke. It happened to me in moments of pressure, situations of great stress,” he added.
The Belarusian secured elimination in the first round of the tournament ostravalast October, it helped her change her perspective.
“The moment I broke some rackets in Ostrava was crucial for me, since then I’ve been trying to make it easier. I accepted the anxiety and fear I had and learned to build that process step by step. Instead of focusing so much on goals, focus on the process. Today I am happy with everything I have been through. It all helped me to be more open, tolerant and compassionate with me,” she explained.
He added: “I like everything, but above all being able to accept everything that happens. If I’m not playing well, I start looking for a solution to overcome it, whereas in the past I would have reacted by getting angry. I feel like I’m enjoying the process“.
And while she’s thrilled to be able to continue advancing in the tournament, this Wednesday it will be the Kazakh Elena Rybakina-, does not lose that new concentration that led her to have fun again on the pitch.
“Last year my tennis wasn’t bad, but I lacked it mentally. In the preseason I told myself “I will open my mind, try new things and work hard”. I feel like I’ve been playing tennis at a high level since the beginning of the year. I’m excited to play a semi-final again here and give it my all. I need to focus, stay in the present and keep doing my day job, step by step,” she said. vikawho between football and Messi, motherhood and a new mentality, wants to celebrate again in Melbourne.