Qualifying begins: 26 June
The Draw: 30 June
Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July
Order of Play: 2 July
Championships begin: 3 July
COME BACK FOR LIVE SCORES & LIVE BLOG FROM 26 JUNE
Victoria Azarenka speaks to the media after the 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 win against CiCi Bellis
Q. Slow start. How were you able to turn it around?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, it was really a kind of nervous start for me. I was, you know, not finding my range, not really moving the way I like to move and the way I have been practicing, actually.
But she started well. You know, she started to hit a few deep shots, and I felt like I didn't have enough on and didn't play my game.
I'm glad that in the second set, I kind of just relaxed and tried to play the way I want to play, not think about too much what the score, anything like that, because it was kind of a long day when we didn't know where we're gonna play, when we're gonna play.
So it was, yeah, not easy. But I'm very happy that the last two sets I was able to do what I have been doing in practice.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the fact that you didn't know when you were going to play. That's a bit unusual.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It is unusual. You know, I had to be here the whole day (smiling), which is, for a new mom, is a little tough. Hopefully I won't play like this again.
You know, it is what it is. I just tried to, you know, stay focused pretty much all day, but it's okay.
Q. Did you bring your child with you today, or did you just leave it at home and be around here?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I didn't just leave him at home (smiling) by himself. But no, not today. As I said, it's tough to know what time I was going to play, and this is way past his bedtime. So I wouldn't do that to him.
Q. What was it like to come back on to a big show court again?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, it was wonderful. The atmosphere was really nice, and, you know, to see how much people welcome me is really actually emotional to me. I'm very happy.
But I'm glad I was able to play on the big court, you know, feel that, you know, the atmosphere again with a lot of people and bigger court. It feels really different from practice court and only got a chance to hit for half an hour in Championships court. The bounce is a little different, but it was really fun.
Q. I'm sure you have been asked this before, but it's so special for an elite athlete to come back and perform at the highest level. Serena, of course, is due. What advice, what thoughts would you share with her on her journey and her possible return?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, you know, I think especially in pregnancy, it's so hard to tell someone, give someone advice, because it's so individual. The feeling after is so individual. It's hard to really say something.
But I always say that whenever she asks me for my opinion, I give it to her in person, and in private. She has a little bit before, so I will just keep it private (smiling).
Q. Vesnina is next for you. You played her seven times and haven't lost. What are your thoughts about that match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, well, I have to think about it for a second, because I didn't really -- I didn't really know who I'm playing. Obviously she's a very good player. You know, she had a really good last year and played really well already this year.
I think she was in the semifinal last year at Wimbledon? So obviously grass is very comfortable surface for her.
You know, we'll see what happens. I'm excited to play against her. She's a great player and always can bring her A game. So it's going to be tough. I think every match is important for me how I play.
Q. I was just talking to CiCi. Obviously she was ahead at the beginning. I asked her what changed? She said, Well, she just started playing a lot better. She started hitting harder, taking the balls quicker. What do you think it was that changed the game after being down 4-0 in the first set?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I definitely feel like I started to create something for myself. I started to create the points. I started to find my range better. I started to see the point better and move better.
So I felt like I really started taking my opportunities, which I felt still in the first set I could have turned it around and maybe fight a little bit more in that second set.
But I really feel that my game changed the momentum in this game, and at the beginning I just wasn't finding my range. I felt that I let her play the way she likes to play.
Q. You obviously played Mallorca and practiced here. How did Court 1 play? The bounces? The ball? What was it doing out there for you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, compared to Mallorca, it's very different. Compared to Aorangi, I feel like the bounce is a little bit higher than in Aorangi. It's a little tricky sometimes. It feels a little slower. The ball skids. It depends on the shot that's coming.
Overall it felt comfortable, and I hope it's not going to be too slippery, because there was one point where I didn't slip but I felt like it was a little slippery.
Q. Could you share your thoughts on being a role model for other women at the pro, elite level, top level, and having a child and coming back. Maybe this could become a thing, in a way.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, being a role model is a big honor and I think big pressure, but I just think that it's not as scary as people think sometimes. It definitely has -- it's a lot of conscious decision that you have to make to give yourself that break and be able to work hard and start really, you know, physically, a little bit from zero.
But I do believe that if you're very passionate about what you do and what you love to do, that you can do that. You know, the guys have luxury to never stop their career and for girls it's tougher.
But I think it's possible. Even before me, we had players do this. You know, like Kim Clijsters and a lot of girls who are maybe less ranked so their story isn't as big.
It is possible. One of my biggest inspirations was Kerri Walsh that came back after three kids and still playing for gold medal. Nothing is impossible. For women, that's definitely true.
Q. CiCi, she has been around for a while, but she was coming up really fast while you were out of the competition. How tough is it to play against that kind of young player, almost 10 years younger than you? How do you feel about playing younger players?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You just made me feel really old about myself (smiling). But I think, you know, it's -- I see a lot of new faces, and I'm sure I'm going to face a lot of players that I haven't faced and young players upcoming.
I was one of the players like CiCi 10 years ago, and, you know, you coming on the tour, I feel like you have nothing to lose. All you see is like you can improve and keep going. Especially like the first year where you kind of make it closer to the top, you know, it's really not easy but it's easier. It's always harder to prove it year after year after year.
But I feel like she has a really good potential. She seems like a hard worker. Yeah, I think she can have a big future.
Q. How about your new racquets? Maybe you play with Wilson but today you play with Yonex?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah.
Q. How is the new racquet?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I feel really good. I actually change few little things for the three months that I have been trying, and I really appreciate the brand, that they have been so patient and pay so much attention to detail, to make whatever necessary adjustment I needed.
I feel really good. I'm excited to be part of the Yonex family.
Q. Do you feel ready to win this tournament? Do you think it's maybe a bit too soon for you? What do you think?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know, I think when I'm going to think about that is not gonna happen. I'm just going to relax and try to take it one match at a time, because I feel that's the best way for me to play. Thinking too much ahead, all this expectation is not easy. I'm going to try to just stay in the moment.