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May 20, 2016

Victoria Azarenka

Paris, France

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How is your back doing? How do you feel? How was practice going?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I arrived pretty early to Paris, so I had a few days of training here already. It was good for me to take some time off and regroup. I have been practicing pain-free, so I'm feeling ready to start the tournament.

Q. Can you just talk about post-Rome, what did you do? Did you not pick up a racquet for a few days? What did you do to kind of get your body back? Are you 100%?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I didn't play tennis. I took a couple of days off. I still kept, you know, doing my exercise for the back and continued with what I could do to stay active. I don't like to just sit and do nothing.

For me it was more mental to just get away and get myself, you know, focused again and motivated again. I went home, spent time with the family. For me, it's always the best recharge.

Q. People talk about tennis and the changes of surface and what it means for a player, potentially how the surfaces make your life more difficult. For you, what are the challenges that clay presents for your specific game? How easy is it to suddenly go from success on a hard court to really playing well on clay?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I don't think it's easy to make transition into any surface. I believe that clay is the most challenging just because of the specific movement that you have to adapt on the clay, you know, the sliding that I don't use on the hard courts where I'm able to go with one shot from defense to offense.

Here it's always a little bit more challenging, so it's a learning experience for me how to do that. Definitely adapt the game a little bit to still make those transitions, but it's more difficult to do than one, two shots. It takes patience. I feel it's not only tennis-wise, but it's about trusting your body and being able to feel free and feel mobile and feel fast on the court.

Q. Have you noticed any change in the security? If so, what was it?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Here? Just a little bit more people. That's pretty much it.

Q. How do you feel about your security here?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think, you know, the world is a little bit of a scary place watching the news right now, but I'm trying to think that sport events are, you know, thinking it as celebration and hoping everything is going to be okay.

Q. Is it difficult to know how much time you take off between Rome and Roland Garros with this tournament in the back of your mind?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, it really wasn't difficult. I just -- I don't really usually need too much time. I just need a couple of days to not be in the routine of training, you know, going to the side, going and doing recovery. Just to break that routine a little bit was necessary.

Q. How much has your team changed, thinking about the beginning of your career and perhaps the team that you put around you? Now you've got a coach, hitting partner, a physio, and other people. How much has that changed for you from when you started on tour and today?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, when I started on tour I always had a coach. I never really understood the academy-type of training because I feel that tennis is such an individual sport that it needs an individual attention per player if you want to go far.

Also, in the beginning of career I don't think you have enough finances to bring the whole team on tour. But from an educational point, I would prefer to have the whole team earlier, to learn those steps maybe a little bit earlier than before. But I think it's important to have a full team that all you do is not worry. All you do is think about performing your best and playing. The rest is taken care of.

Q. You're now back at 5. What did you improve after two years which were very difficult for you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I just really got healthy. I don't think there was anything else that was a problem for me not to play at top level, but my physical ability didn't allow me to play full schedule or being able to compete how I wanted.

So I do believe that I have improved, and I'm still improving. I want to use this year and hopefully next year for a process to keep improving my game, make myself the best player as possible.

Q. Just about your process, you said that you needed a bit of a break from the grind, training, going to courts, and things like that. Do you just need to take those breaks, you know, at a singular moment, or is that like a lesson that during tournaments you need smaller breaks mentally to keep things fresh like in-tournament? Or do you lock in?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I just think sometimes it is what it is. I don't think you can play the full year without any moment where it's less -- you know, like more challenging. You know, I didn't really have to have much time after Miami with the Fed Cup and everything. I felt that I wanted to get into a training and, you know, have as many weeks possible on the clay.

It caught up to me a little bit, and it's okay. It's just -- it is what it is. I feel, you know, ready to play here. I don't see -- I don't feel that there is ever an ideal preparation that, you know, if you win the tournament it's guaranteed you're going to play well at another tournament.

I think it's just important how you take each day, and I think I gave myself enough time to prepare here.

Q. Regarding the coaching, at what point do you go from being a student as a young junior to being the boss that I presume you consider yourself now, of your coaching team?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't see myself as a boss and I don't see myself as a student. I think it's about teamwork. I want to always keep learning. I hire people to teach me and to push me forward. So it's a tricky situation where you are in charge, but you also -- they are also there for you to bring something in, so I have to be open minded.

I want to keep learning, but I do have always what I think. The communication process is, I think, what makes a player and a coach better.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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