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July 4, 2018

Victoria Azarenka

Wimbledon, London, England

Ka. PLISKOVA/V. Azarenka

6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How did you feel at the start of that match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I felt okay. I think I was excited to be out there for sure. I was excited to be on Centre Court. I was excited to face a tough opponent, so, yeah, I was excited.

Q. And your play early on in the match? Did you feel you were playing well?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think there are parts that I played okay. There are parts I could have done better.

You know, I think overall -- I'm not really thinking just from the beginning. I think overall throughout the match I put myself in a good situation to have opportunities and to take chances and I created them, but I didn't necessarily connect with the momentum of the match and she did. And she took those opportunities.

Q. This may be small solace to you but you were part of a history-making day today. Two of the three matches on the two main show courts are women's. You have somehow been blazing the trail for gender unwittingly, but what does that mean to you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think, I hope, it will be the last time we have to talk about it this way, and I think that will be a real progress if we stop saying that "for the first time in the history," you know, that would be a big progress. I'm glad it's moving in the right direction.

Q. In your battle to get back into form, has it been more of a physical challenge for you or an emotional one?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It's a little bit of both. I think a lot of people don't really know on the daily basis what things that I have to go through, and that's okay.

But I think physically I'm very fit right now. Probably better than I have ever been before. But to be able to connect that with my tennis, it's been challenging and a little bit frustrating in a way, because, you know, sometimes when you're unfit or something, you're late to the ball or you're not making up steps or whatever. And for me it's the opposite and too early, I'm way too early to the ball, and then I have so much time that I'm thinking too much sometimes.

And that connection needs to happen at some point. In practice, I'm able to manage it better, but in matches, it has to happen. But I think there is a progress from match to match, especially comparing my previous matches in Mallorca there is definitely a step forward, but it's not a finish line, for sure.

Q. Just a quick question about your opponent today. I think a lot of people think she's got a game that could do very well on grass, but she's never been past the second round. Do you think she could do some damage in this tournament?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it's unpredictable. You know, I think there were quite a few shockers already in the tournament, so it really depends on a day to day, and grass is a very tricky surface. But she definitely has the game, you know, to play on every surface.

Q. You said that a lot of people don't understand the challenges you go through on a daily basis just to be able to play and get back in there. Did you anticipate what those challenges would be?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No (smiling). Not even a little bit. I don't think you can possibly anticipate anything like that.

Q. What makes your opponent today a tough player to play?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: She has a big serve, so that's sometimes, you know, is if you don't take those opportunities, if you have a break or break point, makes it sometimes harder to create some more opportunities.

But overall, she's pretty solid. She has a kind of like heavy, flat game, and I think she doesn't look that she's very fast, but I think she has a good anticipation of where the ball is going.

Q. I know you're a football fan. You posted a picture with Ronaldo sometime back.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh, yeah. I was thinking which one? Oh, did I meet him (smiling)?

Q. I wondered, because the men's singles final and the World Cup final are on the same day and overlap this year. Which one do you think you'll watch?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Probably neither one, because I'll probably be with my son. So I have been such a big sports fan, but that took a step back. I haven't even watched any of the NBA finals, which is probably the first time ever. We'll see.

Q. If you don't mind revisiting that challenge of all that's involved in coming back after an extended absence, I'm wondering, when you spoke of, I guess, the frustration of not having the timing just right, in this period is part of what you're grappling with self-doubt, or is it more impatience? Do you have the baseline confidence you'll get there and it's just a matter of getting to that point? Is there any part of you that questions?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I don't necessarily question if I'll ever get back to the top. But the timing and the patience is a challenge and to accept that it might take a little bit more time because I like to have things instant. But these things don't happen all the time the way you want.

I think overall it's a very good lesson for me, and this last year, year or whatever, is going to push me forward very much at some point, for sure.

Q. Jamie Murray was talking earlier about how he was really looking forward to defending his title obviously and looking forward to playing with you this year.

Q. How did that come about? What are you looking forward to about that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I'm very much looking forward to have English people on our side (smiling). And being hopefully a crowd favorite for the first time in England.

Jamie is an amazing player. To see how much he progressed over the years and making a big name for himself, it's really cool. So I'm excited to play with him. I think it's going to be our first time. My memory is gone (smiling).

But he actually asked me. I was thinking about doubles or mixed doubles or something to play, and he reached out to my coach and I said yes.

Q. How are you managing with little Leo on the tour? I know you're taking him around. What special arrangements have you made for him? And how do you deal with that mentally while he's with you? How has that changed for you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, my mother is helping me out, which is really amazing. I think -- you know, I spoke about it. The challenge is still to find the balance where I'm able to take some time for myself, which I don't like to do, and when I go out and practice or go out and play to be okay that I'm not spending this time with my son.

So I think it's still a balance that I need to do better at, but I'm learning.

Q. How would you describe the atmosphere at Centre Court during your match? Especially that first set.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It was really cool. I mean, it's really special. It's always going to be special to play on the Centre Court. And I really enjoy it every time. I wish I would have won and have another opportunity, but it's always special to go out there and play on the biggest stage.

Q. Did it feel at all subdued, like people were still kind of filtering in and maybe...
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, but what you going to do about it?

Q. Given the longevity of women's careers now, it's very different now than it was than, say, in the '90s, do you think more players like you will be faced with the choice of, Well, do I want to take a little pause in my career and start a family and then get back? I mean, I think it just used to be women wouldn't have time to get back and extend their career if they are playing until 27. I don't think that's the expectation anymore.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't think so. I think it's the trend of that is going to change, and I think that's a really positive way. You know, being able to play a lot longer now it's also a good estimate to have a family or to do whatever it is that you need to do. You know, some people have longer injuries, like being one year or two years out, and then coming back.

So I think that will definitely change in the next few years. As you said, in the '90s, it was very different, and I think overall global understanding of women working and having a family is changing a lot.

Q. You said that Jamie approached you to play. I think last year it was the other way around for Martina Hingis, she approached him. How do you feel about following in her footsteps, Jamie defending the title here, obviously does that kind of add something to that for you, as well?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Okay, that's very confusing. I didn't understand. How am I following the footsteps?

Q. Martina Hingis, playing with Jamie.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh, playing with Jamie. I thought approaching him... Wow. Okay. (Laughter.)

Q. So how does it feel to be the pursued instead of the pursuer?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Special (smiling).

I mean, I don't really think of it this way, but, I mean, I think he has pressure he has to defend. I've got nothing to defend. So I'm just going to enjoy it.

Q. It's all about the fun for you now, the mixed?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, it's always about the fun in mix for me, but I'll definitely play serious, because, you know, I'm still there to play and do my job. But I think there is obviously less pressure than there is in singles and a lot more jokes in between. But, man, it's still a game and we still have to give our best.

Q. How do your games match up together? Do you think you'll be a good partner?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Stay tuned (smiling).

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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