January 19, 2022
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
V. AZARENKA/J. Teichmann
THE MODERATOR: Talk us through your thoughts on the match, how you're feeling here this year.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I think it was a very solid match from the beginning to the end. Pretty consistent. I thought that my game plan was very well executed and I took my chances. I think I played really well on the important moments. When I had opportunities, I was really going for them.
I think pretty much pretty solid today, yes.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. I was hoping you would put your WTA council hat on momentarily. Obviously you're very alive to developments around the world, what's going on with different governments about vaccination issues. What is your view, the mood within the WTA council, on whether or not it's time to take sort of a harder stance on a clear 'no jab no play' policy to just remove any uncertainty about the situation tennis players are going to face around the world?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, from my standpoint it's been very clear. I believe in science. I believe in getting vaccinated. That's what I did for myself.
I don't want to push my beliefs on everybody else. However, we are playing a global sport that are traveling around the world. As an entity, as an association of WTA, that is traveling globally, we still have to respect countries, different countries, different mandates, different legalities of the country.
Some countries will not allow mandates. I think to impose something legally on the WTA Tour can be a challenge. I think that's something that we are facing.
I believe that spending a lot of extra money over this last almost two years now on all the testing, that is a big budget. I don't necessarily will say that getting vaccinated, then nobody will be sick, but I think it is a step to hopefully battle against this coronavirus, hopefully bring it down globally. But to make it as a mandate, there is much more to it.
If you ask me just for my opinion if that should be the case, I think it would just be helpful for everybody in the world, especially when we are traveling internationally.
If you're home and you don't travel and you just remotely can safely do the measurements, the social distancing, all the precautions that are been introduced to us, I think that's one thing.
In our case I think this is what has been recommended, and that's what I believe is the right thing to do.
Q. So many complexities about this, legal, health complexities. There's also the social license, they'd be in the front of your mind from the WTA council, the responsibility of the tour to set an example perhaps above and beyond what might be legally required.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think from a social standpoint it's been very clear that the WTA is supporting the vaccines and recommending it. Again, it goes beyond mandating for a legal part. Encouragement has always been from the WTA side, from tennis side I think in general.
On a social aspect, personally for me it's not necessarily maybe about myself, it's about other people. Like my parents for example, are at high risk for COVID. I had COVID in November of this year. Unfortunately my parents also got. It was tough for my dad. Thankfully he was vaccinated because I honestly don't know what could have happened otherwise.
For me there is a social responsibility for other people who are much more vulnerable maybe than us. I definitely look at it from that point, as well.
Q. What has happened to the players that have come here and are being deported, no one thought it would end up there. I don't think anyone really thinks that the players deserved deportation, such a humiliating experience. Is there something to be said for honing things that that can't happen?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: To be fair, I believe this whole situation could have been prevented from the beginning. I don't believe that this was something that just came out of nowhere. This could have been prevented. This could have been addressed way earlier than it was at this point.
What happened after, I don't believe there was anybody who looked good in any case. That became, you know, a bit of a circus. I think there should be a really hard look on this situation moving forward.
I think as soon as there is a grey area in the rules, that gives a bit too much questions, and situations like this happen. On certain things I think black-and-white approach is necessary. In my opinion, this should be the case.
Q. Steve Simon's decision to suspend tournaments in Asia, that leaves a substantial part of the calendar empty for WTA players. What are your thoughts on how best the calendar should be filled? Has the WTA had discussions with the council?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think right now it's a process. The process is obviously not public at the moment because there is no certainties or any decisions or substitutions that are in play. The process is there. As soon as we have more concrete information, it will definitely be shared. But right now it's still up in the air.
But there is work behind the scenes for sure.
Q. The council feels they're in the loop in terms of things as they develop?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Oh, definitely. Our council is very much involved. We don't let any questions go by. I think you would know that from my personality.
Q. What is the latest from what you know of the Peng Shuai situation? What questions do you have in your mind?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: There hasn't been that much development in terms of contact with Peng Shuai even though from our side we will continue to make any and all efforts to make sure that she is safe, she feels comfortable. Hopefully we will get to hear from her personally at some point. I think that's the goal, the main goal right now.
As an association, women's association, I am proud that we are supporting our players. I think that kind of should go without saying. The situation is really unfortunate. We all hope for the best. We will see what happens in terms of logistics.
Q. Looking ahead, you haven't played a ton of matches against Svitolina, but what are your thoughts about her game and how the matchup looks for you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: We had few battles already, actually on different surfaces. We practiced quite a few times together. I think there won't be too many big surprises on the court.
However, she's an amazing fighter. She fights no matter what. I think that is a very important quality in her game. The rest is about trying to really focus on myself to be more in charge, be more in control. I think that's what I've been kind of trying to implement for the last few months. I think that's working in the right direction, so I'll continue to do that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports