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August 29, 2018

Victoria Azarenka

New York, NY, USA

V. AZARENKA/D. Gavrilova

6-1, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How good does it feel to make fairly short work of that match, especially in those conditions?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I'm very happy about that. I'm happy that I was playing first round, and I'm pretty sure it's a little tougher out there right now with the weather, with the conditions.

I didn't really think, you know, I'm going to get out as quick as possible in terms of time. I was prepared to stay there as long as it needed to be. But it was good to see, like, the consistent level. There was no up-and-downs today. That's what I'm more happy about.

Q. Understanding that you train and play in heat a lot. Still, is there anything different that you do now, for example, with recovery, looking forward to more heat, or anything different you did going into the match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Everyone is a fan of ice bath. I hate it. So I'm not going to do it (smiling).

I don't know. I don't think so. Physically I feel pretty fit. I think the important thing is, you know, nutrition, hydration, and more of the simple things.

I have a kid, so I'll play with him and stuff, so that gives me also really good mental recovery.

Q. I don't know if you've seen the footage from yesterday of Cornet with what happened on the court?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh, yeah, I saw it.

Q. What's your reaction to what happened and the subsequent apology by the USTA?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I didn't know they gave an apology, which is really nice, I think. I believe that should never happen. If I would say my true feelings, it would be bleeped out, because I think it was ridiculous. It was nothing wrong. Nothing wrong. It wasn't anything disrespectful. She literally changed her shirt because it was backwards. So I couldn't believe this was a conversation.

I'm glad they apologized, and I hope this never happens again.

Q. How does the US Open look to you different now as a mom, being here, as opposed to few years ago when you were in the finals and all that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't remember how it felt before, because it feels like it's been a really long time ago. But I always love coming to New York. I always feel a special energy.

I said a couple of times New York will always be a very special place for me to come, because it was the first time I have ever came to the United States was New York, and I was 10 years old. So I always have that, you know, feeling when I come to the city.

It's a little bit different than with all the renovations and stuff and the roof that I haven't played before under. That's really cool.

But being here as a mom, you know, the balancing role is a tough one. But being here as a player is really fun for me.

Q. When you were 10, did you come here to play tennis?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I came here for tennis, and we drove all the way from New York to Florida to play the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl and all those tournaments.

Q. There is a chance you could play Sloane Stephens next. You last played her in Miami. What specific challenges does her game present? What do you remember playing against her?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, she's a very good player. I feel like she improved so much to be on the consistent level. I think she's always been a very talented player. And now she's taking it one tournament at a time and really performing at a high level at every event. But I always thought she was very talented.

So for Miami, you know, it was a good match. I think we played well. But I had my chances there. For me, it's going to be a great challenge, if she wins, to play against her and try to do my best.

Q. When you came here at 10, were you with your parents? What did you do in New York specifically? What are the things that you most want to show Leo about this city?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I came by myself. It was an international flight of a 10-year-old by myself. Unfortunately my parents didn't have opportunity to travel or financial opportunities.

But I was lucky that I had opportunities. What I remember is driving in a cab and seeing, like, all this huge buildings and literally going like (looking up). That's something that I remember like it was yesterday.

What I want to show Leo is just the city. I mean, he was already at the zoo this morning and petting goats and playing with all the animals. I checked out all the playgrounds around already, so I know where to go. He's going to go crazy. One of the playgrounds I found, he's gonna love it. I can't wait to take him there.

Q. You have been talking about trying to translate practice onto the match court, looking for that consistency in matches. How pleased are you with how you have been playing here? How do these last two matches compare to the way you felt last few weeks and last few months?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, last few weeks and last few months would be very different compared to how I feel today. Obviously, I played Cincinnati, played Montreal, it was a real struggle for me. I didn't feel like I wanted to play this much.

I didn't really enjoy myself, because I feel like when you go through difficult times you sometimes have a very narrow focus on result only, and it's hard to look outside of that.

That's where I caught myself, that really focusing on result. It didn't bring me joy of the journey, of experience. It really held me back, I feel like it held me back from improving or transitioning from practice to match. It's been a really a struggle.

But right now I feel happy on the court. I feel happy outside of the court. I feel that little by little, I am making that transition. I feel a lot more comfortable, confident on the court. I really do enjoy playing and fighting and just being here.

Q. Do you feel this whole thing with Cornet's shirt, and then we have had no cat suit at the French, and maternity leave and conversations recently, do you think it's a broader issue for the women on the tour now? And also, have you ever changed an outfit on the court?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't remember if I did. I really don't remember.

But I don't think it's just a problem on the tour. I think it's a problem in the world, unfortunately. But there is a direction that is -- there is conversations and the direction is going in the right way. We just need to continue to break those barriers.

When things and issues like this, it needs to stop at the beginning. It cannot develop anymore. It's enough. You know, the things with the cat suit, I personally don't understand it. No idea what means disrespecting the game playing in the cat suit?

There is always a double standard for men and women. But we need to push those barriers. And as players, as representatives of the WTA Tour, I believe we're gonna do the best we can to make sure that we are the most progressive sport and continue to break those boundaries, because it's unacceptable. For me, it's unacceptable.

It shouldn't be a conversation. It should not be a conversation. Why? Why there's conversation? What's the disrespect? I don't get it.

Q. Regarding this new perspective you have about tennis and it's more, you know, the results aren't the only thing that matters, you seem to be kind of patient with this comeback.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I have to be (smiling). It's not my option to be.

Q. Well, I'm sure your fans are very glad to see you back. I'm sure they're glad you are back now. Do you have patience, you know, if it doesn't happen this tournament, nothing to panic? Do you have a timeline for yourself?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, that's a constant battle. I think the internal battle that I keep having is just sometimes be patient, because if I look at, you know, the big picture and what I have been through and where I am now, it's pretty significant. But it is not where I want to be. So that space sometimes seems really far, but it's the step that I need to continue to take to, like, the goal, and I do take those steps.

But the patience comes where I want to do jumps and sometimes it's little steps, and that's where it gets, you know, sometimes frustrating.

But I tell you that patience wasn't my choice. It was forced on me. But I'm glad it did, because it pushes me to improve. And I think sometimes things happen to us, bad things happen, to teach you a lesson, and I want to make sure that I take the best lesson out of this.

Q. Most of us have never had the pleasure of having an ice bath.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, you should try it (smiling).

Q. What does it feel like? Why do you hate it?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It's horrible. It's, like, my toes absolutely hate it. It starts like cramping. I absolutely hate it. It's wet, it's cold. I don't like it. Nothing about it I like.

Q. If Venus and Serena win today they face each other in the next round.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Really? I had no idea. That's going to be exciting for the fans. I'm sure they will hate it, both of them hate this, but I think it's going to be beautiful for tennis.

Q. What does it mean to you, their matchup over the years and the legacy of how they have carried themselves in those matchups?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, obviously they're both sisters, but such different individuals and such different characters on the court. So when you see those, you know, differences battling each other and you know, like, they know each other the best, you know, how to play against each other or how they are feeling or how they are, so I feel like it's always an interesting match.

But on the mental aspect, I think it must be really hard for them to play against each other.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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