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March 29, 2018

Victoria Azarenka

Miami, Florida

S. STEPHENS/V. Azarenka

3-6, 6-2, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. A great first set and up a break, but just at the end, a little bit, physically do you think you feel it? Where do you think maybe the match turned on you in that second set?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I honestly didn't feel good at all the whole match. I felt like I was a little bit too slow. It's just I was fresher in the first set and getting to the ball at the right time.

And then I stopped getting to the ball. I stopped hitting the ball the way I should be hitting the ball. You know, she's gonna jump on it. She had great shots.

If I play less, a little bit shorter, you know, she has an advantage. I wasn't there in the second and in the third set the way I wanted to be.

You know, she played well. She pushed me. She took all the opportunities she had. I had so many, still, still had so many opportunities in the second set, and I didn't take them. So it's my fault.

Q. Did you feel that the physicality and the inability to kind of do all that -- you have been talking about wanting to be tournament fit, and that's obviously a different thing than being gym fit, right? Was that where you feel you came up short was the tournament fitness?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, definitely. I need to be more tournament fit, more match fit, and I need to continue to play.

But, you know, today, again, is just -- I still had so many opportunities, and I need to be able to take them. It's disappointing. I need to learn from it and keep working hard.

Q. Was this the most physically challenging match since you have been back? Was it the longest? And is there an issue? Looked like your left knee you were kind of pulling up on it a little bit.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, I just started feeling, kind of, my hip flexor pulling, and I couldn't really bend my legs the right way.

I don't know if it's the most physical match. I'm not sure, honestly.

Q. Second to that, last summer, US Open, were you watching Sloane's run through that tournament? Did you watch the final on television?

Q. You didn't watch anything?

Q. Can you appreciate, kind of having been there, what she accomplished in coming back from her surgery and making that tremendous run during the US Open?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah. I mean, it's an incredible effort. You know, to be able to turn things around, she seems like she has a pretty optimistic attitude, you know, to stay -- you know, it's not an easy thing to go under surgery. You're kind of not sure what the future will hold.

So all congrats to her for keeping optimistic, for keeping working hard. It's paying off right now.

Q. Lastly, she struggled after she won the US Open.

Q. Can you understand how a player can have that incredible high and have so much difficulty maintaining it?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Personally? No, because I didn't have that. You know, I think that I'm pretty consistent player, especially when I was, you know, after winning Grand Slam, I still continued my run.

But it seems like a lot of young players have this drops after their high/lows and takes them time to play good again and then kind of average and pretty bad sometimes.

But that's what the danger is. You never know who you're gonna play and what level they're gonna produce. She lost, what, eight matches after in a row? And now she's playing really good tennis. So that is good and it's also a little bit inconsistent, so that's all it is.

Q. So what's your short-term plan now? In Indian Wells you mentioned that there might have been some news with regards to the custody case that you might be able to share with us.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I'm going right now, I'm going to be back in LA for -- I have to go back, and then I will see what happens. When I have some news, I'll be ready to share them.

Q. So no tournaments for the time being?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't have any news to share with you right now.

Q. I don't know what your expectations were for Indian Wells and Miami, but now that it's all over, can you kind of reflect on the last four weeks? What were you pleased with? What were you not?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I think it's a little early to reflect, since I just finished the match and I'm pretty disappointed. But I think overall what I have done is not bad at all, you know, to make the progress from one week to another week, barely practicing and barely even eating.

So I'm not too bad, you know. Overall, you know, from Indian Wells to Miami I did pretty good improvement. And now I hope I'll be able to play more and continue to work hard, because I really need to play more matches, play more tournaments to be able to figure out the situations like today and turn them around on my side.

Q. You mentioned that as a board member on the player council that you would enter discussions about the seedings, the rankings, for returning mothers.

Q. When you meet during Wimbledon, what would be your recommendation?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: We already had a meeting in Miami, and I proposed some of the recommendations for what I think. In terms of seeding, we need to think about it a little longer in terms of giving a longer break and a longer time span to be able to come back. I think it's very important, and that's the first step that needs to be taken.

Q. So what did you recommend?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I recommended at least three years to be able to come back, and I believe that it should be longer than one year that you should be able to use your protected ranking and more tournaments because of the pregnancy.

Q. How many wildcards...
VICTORIA AZARENKA: We didn't discuss the wildcards. I actually just learned a very new rule about wildcards I had no idea about at that meeting. So I think a lot of players needs to educate themselves also of our rules. It's a huge book, but we should read them sometimes.

Q. What was the rule?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It was something weird. It was, like, if you're playing for 10 years on the tour you can have additional wildcards or something. Like, it was very weird. And I don't know. I never heard of that before.

Q. I'm just curious if you have discussed with your team or had any discussions about potentially playing ITFs in California or something like that, just to get match play and to get practice, or nah?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't think I'm going to go back to ITF level, with all due respect. I have done that before, and it's enough (smiling).

But, you know, we'll see. I'm keeping my hopes up, and we'll see what happens. I just don't want to talk too much, because my words are always used against me, so...

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