Close Panel
Wimbledon Channel

Qualifying begins: 26 June

The Draw: 30 June

Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July

Order of Play: 2 July

Championships begin: 3 July


Menu uses cookies.
We use simple text files called cookies, saved on your computer, to help us deliver the best experience for you. Click continue to acknowledge that you are happy to receive cookies from
CONTINUE > Find out more
Saturday, 1 July 2017 16:59 PM BST
Baby Leo gives mum Azarenka a new focus
At only her second tournament since returning from maternity leave, the Belarusian explains what's changed READ MORE

Winning Wimbledon, or even just a round or two, is hard enough without trying to do so while sleep deprived.

No one needs to tell Victoria Azarenka, who is playing her first Grand Slam tournament since returning from maternity leave, how a fortnight of broken nights would affect her grass court ambitions.

 Azarenka adores waking in the night to feed her son Leo, who was born in December, but while in London she will have help from her mother and her boyfriend Billy to ensure she can rest to prepare for competition.

"When I play, it's a little different - I get to sleep through the night," said Azarenka and, for any new parent, that is a prize almost as thrilling and wonderful as the Venus Rosewater Dish.

You can be sure that Serena Williams - absent because she is seven months pregnant - will be following Azarenka's progress, with the Belarusian to start against the American teenager CiCi Bellis. Anything that Azarenka accomplishes this fortnight, Williams will want to better when she returns to the scene next season. Azarenka and Williams might not be aware that Wimbledon history is not on the side of mothers. In the last 103 years, only one mum has won the title: Australia's Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.

The other day on Instagram, Azarenka posted a photograph, taken at Wimbledon's Aorangi Park practice courts, that captured how she is adapting to being a mother on the tennis tour. While Azarenka, a semi-finalist here in 2011 and 2012, crushed the ball in training, Leo was lying on a blanket behind the court while playfully chewing on a plastic accreditation. "The first three months were not easy, but he's a good baby so I don't have much to complain about," Azarenka said.

Originally, Azarenka was plotting to come back during the summer American hard court swing. But training was progressing so well that she fast-tracked her plans (she was also tiring of practising without ever playing) for a return on the grass. The All England Club was also a draw. "Being back here with an extra member of my team is really special," said the former world No.1 and the 2012 and 2013 Australian Open champion, who is competing at Wimbledon for the first time since 2015.

This is only the second tournament of Azarenka's return - she won a round at the grass court event in Majorca - but already she is becoming accustomed to the challenges of travelling with a baby. "He's actually a very good traveller. I think I stress out more because I want to make sure that everything is going well. He is totally fine. He loves the plane," said Azarenka. "There's definitely a little more luggage. And I'm getting to the airport a little earlier than I used to. Before, I would show up just before they were closing check-in, and now I'm there in advance."

Becoming a mother has bought about a significant shift in Azarenka's mentality. By nature and by design, being athletes in an individual sport, tennis players tend to be selfish creatures. But, for Azarenka, that can no longer be so. "It's like 180 [degrees] in your mentality, your daily activities. When I go out to practise, of course I'm present. But after that, it's about somebody else. It's not about me any more, which in tennis is a little bit tricky," she said.

"Being in an individual sport, you have to be a little bit more selfish. So it's a little bit of mind trick that I have to do to feel OK with taking time for myself, not feeling guilty that I don't spend my every free moment with my son, which is sometimes tough. But it also gives me a really good balance when I am done with my practice or my matches. Then I can lose myself with my son, and shut myself off from tennis, which was actually a pretty hard thing to do before."

Follow the latest news and scores from Wimbledon 2017 on or Apple TV,  or download the official IOS or Android apps for smartphone and tablet.

Purchase Towels