February 9, 2021
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
J. PEGULA/V. Azarenka
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Talk us through that match and how you're feeling.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I'm just disappointed, not being able to perform my best. Leaving Australian Open soon is also disappointing, but it is what it is.
Q. Did you have any illness going into the match? What happened there in the second set? Looked like you had some breathing issues.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't really know why we're getting asked about some of, like, medical conditions from players because all this is going out on the Internet after for people to talk about, to judge about.
I truly don't ever understand that rule of why, when somebody is sick, injured or whatever, they have to give their medical reason out in the world. I think that should be changed, unless players do want to talk about that, then they can. But it shouldn't be a mandatory requirement for people to talk about their health issues. Even legally doctors should not release any information.
In terms of that, I feel like that should put a bit of a light on a new and adjusted rule that should be in place.
Q. People were surprised by the loss. You've won the tournament twice here. Obviously you had such a tough preparation. People are wondering whether or not that impacted on how you could perform.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Of course, it has impacted. Somebody who's coming out of hard quarantine and maybe has been able to adjust well, they'll go, Oh, maybe it hasn't impacted. Somebody who lost early will say, Yeah, of course, it's impacted. It would be hard to say, Was that the best preparation for me? No.
But try to sit here and find an excuse because of quarantine and this is just something that, as I said, it is what it is. I am disappointed that I wasn't able to perform that I knew I could. That's a bit hard to accept today because I knew I can play better, a lot better. At the same time I feel that I've tried everything I can to be able to be prepared, but unfortunately that hasn't worked out for me.
Q. Can you talk about that, what you did to prepare for the tournament, during the lockdown or after?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, the most creative way possible is hitting against the wall and soft cushions. Doesn't work (smiling).
But I think the biggest impact for me personally has been not being able to have fresh air. That really took a toll. It really took a toll for me to adjust.
At the same time it's something, like, I don't know how to prepare after two weeks quarantine to play in six days match or five days match. I don't have a blueprint of how to prepare. So it's all about, like, trying to figure it out.
I did not figure it out, not this time.
Q. Choosing to come to Melbourne, how do you reflect on that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I don't reflect. I'm not going to sit here and should I have come, should I have not come. It's a waste of time.
I came here. Whatever happened happened. I'm here today. I lost my match. Life goes on. That's it.
Q. Because of the tough quarantine, but you sent an email to players, that help people to understand more situation. How did you make such a great move?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I think it was just I felt at that time when this was happening that the situation was going a bit out of control. No offense to anybody personally, but media has not made any situation better. I will say made it worse.
I felt it was just an opportunity to address people from a different perspective. Obviously I wanted to do it with players. I've been trying to do it more with players. I wanted to do it internally, but reaching public or reaching you guys was not possible internally.
I thought that was a way to reach other people with social media.
Q. I really appreciated it.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Thank you. Thank you.
Q. Vika, the sort of fairness. Paula Badosa was here after her match. She tested positive. She got a lot of criticism from the media and public about comments she made about conditions. Why do you think communication or the perceptions were so off? What happened to make it so players were feeling misunderstood?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I won't say that players were misunderstood. I think maybe some players didn't really know what they were saying. Sometimes people pick up a little spark and make it into a fire. So I think that was what happened in a lot of cases.
In this case social media was not a great tool for some people to let their emotions out. Then it picked it up from there. I think there was just so much concentration and attention to look for a story, and it was quite easy to find.
I think people maybe who didn't voice their opinions but were feeling, for example, the same way as I did before I posted anything, and I will say that was a majority of players, but sometimes you have hiccups.
Q. I know you played in the one match last week. How were you feeling after that? Did you feel like you were prepared to play in a slam despite the quarantine?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I wasn't feeling that I was prepared because obviously I didn't play my next match after that, which was a choice, which was a hard choice also to take. I know I needed some matches. At the same time I wasn't sure that my body's prepared. As I said before, I didn't know what should be the right game plan for coming out of two weeks quarantine. I've never done this before.
I guess this is like a learning experience, not that I want to repeat that. Yeah, it was something that maybe we just didn't know what to do or maybe it was not enough time. I can sit here and contemplate for a long period of time.
Was I feeling prepared fully? No. But also going into a Grand Slam, or a tournament, it's like, okay, I'll have to do the best I can with what I have. That was my mentality. Today I felt that I've done that to the best of my ability, also mentally.
But it didn't work out. I felt like things were just not connecting. Yeah, it's disappointing, for sure.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports