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September 27, 2020

Victoria Azarenka

Paris, France

Press Conference

V. AZARENKA/D. Kovinic

6-1, 6-2

Q. You were particularly unhappy after three games when there was drizzle, it was very cold. Can you just talk us through, please, from your perspective what you were unhappy with and what you discussed with the officials back stage, please.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, it's not about being unhappy, it's about just having a little bit of understanding. First of all, I don't know what you call a little drizzle. I don't think that you're sitting on the stadium to call it that because it's been drizzling, when I was warming up it was already drizzling. So when it drizzles for about two hours in a row, it kind of gets a little heavier.

So I was just asking. I think my opponent first of all slipped in the third game, so I think she was also feeling a little bit uncomfortable. And I just asked like when my grip is getting wet in between points, like are we going to still continue to play? And then Claire told me that if I'm willing to wait a little bit longer while the drizzle stops, because the rain was supposed to increase, and I said absolutely not because I don't see a point of sitting on the court when it's 8 degrees.

I at the same time asked my opponent if she wants to wait on the court or she wants to go off court, and she said she doesn't want to wait on the court. So I'm not going to waste my time sitting there and getting cold because it's not -- I know the conditions are same for everybody. But I think the adjustment that happened was good to be made and we were back on the court.

So I think it's very tricky at the moment to have these conditions. So definitely not going to sit here and complain, but sometimes I think there are smarter ways to handle situations.

We talked with the supervisor. She was very kind to let us know that there was another heavier cloud to go by, once that passes we're going to go on the court, so we were ready to play whenever they called us.

Q. You were very honest in your assessment of the conditions, so I'm going to ask you...

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Do you mind speaking a bit louder because I can't really hear you.

Q. You were very honest about how you're feeling on the court and about the conditions, so I'm going to ask you a very honest question now. Do you think when the pandemic hit and instead of moving the tournament to this stage they were better off cancelling like Wimbledon did?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think it's a complicated question, it really is. I don't know if I've never really played in September in Paris. I've been here in October and I knew that it wasn't the best conditions to play tennis.

I think that the unfortunate part sometimes with French Open is that there is no communications with player or player council, so you kind of just makes decision without consulting. So I hope this actually will kind of change in the future.

Do I think it's better that the tournament is cancelled? I wouldn't particularly say so because I do believe that I want to play. You know, we all want to compete and we want to play and for maybe not a player like me that maybe financially is more stable than other players are, it's very important to have this opportunity during pandemic.

I think lower-ranked players and doubles players have been hit pretty hard financially with the situation, so it's definitely a great opportunity to be able to have the tournament.

So I think it's a difficult question to answer yes or no. I think that there should have been better adjustments, maybe a little bit more consulting and heads up and conversation. I think that's where we can improve, for sure.

Q. Rafa Nadal was talking about his concerns about the new heavier ball and potentially it could lead to injuries. I just wondered, are you concerned that with these conditions as well that there could be a risk of players getting injured?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think so. I mean, I think when you play at 8 degrees, it's kind of tough.

I think there is adjustments that you have to do. And so I don't really know. I think nobody really has an answer. We can only predict if it's going to be, you know, if it's going to happen or it's not going to happen.

Does it increase the risk of players getting injured? Absolutely, I think that it does. But what's going to happen, I don't know. I don't really want to think about it. Right now I try to focus on what can do I on the court, not rather what is not good, you know, what sucks or like what is bothering everybody. That's not what I'm trying to think about because I'm here to do my job to the best capacity possible.

I think after the tournament there should be some real good feedback and explanations and conversations with players, that's for a fact.

Q. Basically you battled through conditions and you came through in a pretty comfortable win. Are you able to talk about how you were able to keep yourself motivated, keep yourself going through the tough conditions and how you were able to battle what we call maybe a comfortable win?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, well conditions and everything around, they don't bother me. The only thing that can bother me is myself. So everything else around me is an exterior that is whatever.

It's not easy. I mean, I'm not going to sit here and say, oh, everything is perfect and I'm on holidays. I just don't think about those things. I'm just there on the court to try to find a solution on what to do. The motivation is coming from there, it's how can I rise up to this challenge.

Q. You've just said you need to rise to the challenge. What is the biggest challenge that you will face over the next two weeks? Will it be your performance? Will it be how you cope with the difficult weather conditions which are set to be cold and rainy? Or will it be life in the bubble?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I would say all of the above. I don't think that's just one. I think all of the above. Right now it's not easy, but you know, guys, like I don't want to sit here and complain because I think people are going through a lot harder things in life than just bad weather playing on the tennis court.

Can we do something to improve some conditions of the tournament? Weather wise, probably not, otherwise, yes. So there is challenges, but it's the same for everybody so let's just go and talk later.

Q. You've mentioned in the past in terms of the challenge of playing on clay for you has been sometimes sliding, it's the sliding in and out of the corners. When the courts are heavy like this, does that become less of an issue, like do you continue, is footing actually maybe a little bit more sticky and more comfortable for you or no?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I actually was really worried about how I'm going to slide in these conditions. I actually was talking to my coach and I was like, I'm a little hesitant to slide here because I don't know how it's going to go. I only had, you know, like hour and a half of hitting on the site before playing the match, so I didn't really have like enough I guess feedback to see how I feel.

But today, like, I felt that I moved actually really well. I was very fluid, I was very fluid with my movement. I was able it slide everywhere. So I guess when I focus on what I need to do better, these things kind of come automatically.

But in terms of footing I wouldn't say so, because there's a lot of clay that goes into your shoes and you have to like kind of kick it out all the time and it sometimes gets slippery. I feel like I slipped one time a little bit today on a wrong foot shot, and my opponent did couple times.

So I think it's quite, you know, I wouldn't say it's ideal, but it is what it is. You got to adjust. I said that before and I'm going to continue to feel this way, it's all about adjustment these two week. Some shots that I hit today, I don't know if it was good tennis or it was just great adjustments because they weren't really pretty shots sometimes.

Q. I wanted to ask you about how difficult this year as a whole has been. It's obviously been challenging for everybody, but I wonder, for you, what has been the most difficult thing about this year?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: To be honest I feel like I had few last years was kind of difficult. So in a way, after a lot of uncertainty with the pandemic and me kind of finding my way to approach a different perspective, it's been a breath of fresh air.

So I would say I was a lot more I would say miserable a few years before than I am now, so I think the journey to get here has been tough. But right now I kind of look at it that as it was a great opportunity for me to kind of finally just look outside of my narrow thinking.

So in a way it's been better for me personally. Everywhere around it's just been a disaster, so that gets me emotional a lot. But I hope we this time will inquire [sic] a lot of good changes for people and we will rise above all.

Q. Just looking ahead you could face Venus in the second round, third time since the restart. Obviously you guys played in Rome. You can't get enough of each other. But what information do you take out of specifically the Rome match to that can you apply and look towards going into this match?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think very minimal because, as I said, it's going to be a lot about adjusting. Rome was hot, there was a lot of high bounces, like I felt that sometimes I had to jump to hit the return. I'm definitely going to do that here, so I think it's just going to be about adjustment.

There is no surprises with, for me or for Venus, I think it's about execution. We all know that execution, even if you know things, you still have to do the job. So that's all about that.

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