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March 22, 2018

Victoria Azarenka

Miami, Florida


7-6, 2-0 [Ret.]

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. That had a strange ending?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, it's unfortunate. It's, you know, the worst way to finish the match. I always feel bad for the opponent. But it is sport, and, you know, these things happen. The most you can hope is Madison recovers as soon as possible. Hopefully she will be able to play next tournament, and, you know, it won't affect the rest of the season.

Q. What went right for you, I guess, starting late in the first set? It seemed like you really caught your stride there. You found your game. What was going right for you there?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I felt like I started really well and I started to dominate. Then I kind of lost my lead and let her into the match and let her dictate a little bit the point. I made a couple unforced errors where I shouldn't have, so I let her kind of get back into that first set.

But after she was leading, I just tried to stay focused, tried to stay tough and play one point at a time and use my opportunities, and as soon as I had opportunities, I was trying to, you know, be aggressive and not waiting for her to make mistakes, because she's not going to really do that. So I really had to stay tough and take that first set.

Q. This is your fourth tournament back since you had Leo, I think?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It feels like second (smiling).

Q. Or second, depending on how you look at it. How tough is it to kind of readjust to the tour and to being on the court and playing competitively, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, it's quite a difficult balance, but it's a fun one. It's just challenging in the way that I want to spend as much time with my kid as I possibly can, and then I also want to play tennis.

So it's to find that perfect balance of scheduling, which is a little bit more difficult to navigate. But I love it. You know, I wouldn't have it any other way.

For me, the most important is that I'm still able to play and do what I love to do, because I have been doing this for 20-something years now, and I still have, you know, dreams and goals that I want to achieve. So that's really fun.

Q. As you keep on getting more matches, do you feel okay with the progress that you have been making? Do you feel comfortable on court?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I feel better. I think I raised my level compared to Indian Wells pretty dramatically. I want to continue to just, you know, improve.

But it's going to take time. You know, it's going to take time. I need to grind out. I need to be ready for whatever happens. And matches like this are very important, you know, in the first set to be down and still be able to find a way to win. Those are the things that brings confidence, brings more, you know, the rhythm, and the competition feel, I would say.

Q. There has been a lot of talk recently because, you know, Serena is not ranked high enough of protected ranking based on maternity leave. Do you think that's a conversation that should have taken place quite a while back?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Quite a while back? I don't think there was a reason for it, to be honest. I mean, there are only few players who are coming back from maternity leave. Most of the players were not top-ranked players. So they didn't get the attention that, you know, Serena and I probably get.

So I think it's a very tricky question, and I have answered this as diplomatically as I possibly could. There should be a rule on that, but it should be a rule for everybody, maybe with a few exceptions like a lot of rules have, but it has to be balanced not to favor a particular player. And I'm not talking about Serena or myself at the moment, because if we look at her achievements, obviously, you know, you think, yes, she deserves to be seeded, and I agree with that, but we also need to look from the other side of the other players who work hard and deserve their own seeding, as well.

My focus right now is to protect women who want to start a family, because it's quite -- it's still unusual for women to have a family during their career, especially in tennis. So for me it's important to protect these women not to be pressured to come back as soon as possible and to give them opportunities to play maybe more tournaments with a protected ranking, because for us, for me and for Serena, we are fortunate enough to get wildcards in a lot of places, and a lot of women will have to go to the qualifications who were lower ranked.

So I think there should be a better protection of how many tournaments when you come back you have a protected ranking. And I think that number should be higher.

Q. To follow up on that, can you compare coming back from pregnancy to coming back from injury?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I wouldn't even compare that. It's not even a comparison. It's a completely, you know, different mindset. Physical, everything is so different, that, you know, when you are -- when you're out for a long time with injury, it's really tough mentally for you. You know, you can get depressed and everything, because you're not able to do what you love to do.

And when you have a kid, it's joy. You know, it's joy. You're coming back with a different perspective in life.

So I wouldn't compare that. They are two different things.

Q. Is it more of an emotional recovery, if I could use that word, from pregnancy and the new lifestyle or from injury and what you just talked about?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it's more of an adjustment, because there is a different element now. It's not about you anymore. And as an individual athlete in tennis, it's always about you. So when you become a mom or a parent, it's not about you anymore.

So that's a tricky balance to understand.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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