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May 23, 2022

Victoria Azarenka

Paris, France

Press Conference


6-7, 7-6, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: That was a strong comeback win for you today. Can you just talk us through the match a little bit.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I mean, Grand Slams are never easy to start. You know, I played a pretty tough opponent. She came out playing, you know, really strong. I felt like actually I had momentum in the beginning and then I kind of lost it a little bit. So I was really trying to find a way to win today. And I think that's, in the end, that's what it's about. It's not how you start; it's how you finish.

It was a really tough match. It was a lot of emotions, the breaks, so that was all you could get today. Pretty happy to be through with that.


Q. It's a pretty heavy context for you to play tennis right now with what's going on, the decision of the ATP, WTA not to award points for Wimbledon, you not being allowed to play Wimbledon. How do you live through that? How hard is it for you to focus on tennis?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I know, I think I'm not going to sit here and say how hard it is for me, looking at what's going on in the world. There is a lot of things to say, a lot of things that will be taken out of context, so I have already tried that and I'm not going to do that again.

I don't want to say something and people twist my words into different agendas that is suited for them.

So I don't think it's a topic to talk about. It's about what can you do to be helpful, to kind of not move forward but I'm here to do my job. I'm a tennis player who is doing her job, and that's what I'm going to continue to do.

Anything outside of that, I'm going to be as helpful as I can without, you know, putting only in the media or in social media how a lot of people are trying to do that.

I believe in unity, I believe in being a good person, helping others when you can and what you can, so I'm going to continue to do that.

Q. I just wanted to ask you your reaction to what the decision was taken last Friday about stripping points from Wimbledon and just how it's been handled over the last couple of weeks.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, you know, I watched Sloane Stephens' kind of press conference, and I think what she said was right. There was a lot of things that people don't know what was happening behind the scenes. I believe that from the council perspective we tried everything to not have all the players affected.

From my standpoint I tried to make sure we tried to find a compromise, because a lot of players are affected in the end and in the beginning.

So my reaction is: It is what it is. You know, I say one thing, it's going to be criticized. I say another thing, it's going to be criticized.

I don't want to put myself in the talking stage. I want to do what I believe is right, how I can be helpful to people, and in the end of the day, I'm here to do my job.

Q. On a similar topic, I guess, I just wanted to ask you a little bit about your role on the player council, because obviously you have been such a leading voice for so many years on that. This is a very tricky time for all of the players. I just wondered how tricky it feels for you as on the player council but also as a player who was directly affected by the ban itself. How hard was that for you in those conversations, I guess?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think those conversations are really hard. When I have any of those conversations, I don't look at myself and if I am affected. I look at the bigger picture. I believe that I'm not the center of universe, and I'm not the only person that matters.

I believe in the unity of players, I believe that sport should unite people. I hope we have an opportunity to show what sport can bring when we unite and do something together for the good.

To talk more about that, I'm affected in the situation, I'm not a victim. I will never speak as a victim. I believe in the greater good. I believe in helping people, is what I said.

Q. Seems to be a difference between the opinion of the council and the wider player group. Did you consult other players about this decision? Because some feel they weren't maybe consulted as much as they should have been.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Look, I can say a lot of things that will make headlines here, which I'm not going to do, because I don't believe that talking about things like this is important press. This is what's going to be handled in a private matter between players.

I'm, as a player council, is available to any player that have any questions. I have no problem talking with anybody and explaining behind the scenes what's going on. But there is a saying that you can bring water to the horse, but you can't make the horse drink the water. It's not -- don't take it literal. It's just a saying. So again, I believe that we are doing the best we can to inform people.

Player council doesn't vote, to be very, very clear on that. So if, you know, hopefully moving forward, if any players have any questions, there are eight players, I believe, if I'm correct, on the player council, and their names are: Me, Sloane Stephens, Donna Vekic, Christina McHale, Kristina Mladenovic, Gaby Dabrowski. If I forget somebody, please don't -- no, no, no, I'm talking to these girls every day, so...

VOICE: [Off microphone.] She's on the council.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, she's not. Let me look through my phone.

Jessica Pegula. Jesus Christ. Jessica Pegula, she just joined. Spread the word, please.

Q. But will you play anywhere on the grass, do you think, even before Wimbledon? Do you think you'll still play some tournaments?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know, I have been planning so many things this year, and none of them kind of happened. I will just try to take it day by day, because that's -- I think that won't leave me with disappointment, hopefully.

You want to make the God laugh, tell him your plans. That's how I feel this year.

Q. The players are already talking about maybe not going to play Wimbledon this year. Do you think the sporting integrity of Wimbledon has been undermined?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Sorry, could you repeat that?

Q. Players are already talking, players have already said they may not now play Wimbledon, because there are no points on offer, because of that they are not going to play. Do you feel the sporting integrity of the event has been undermined by the actions taken? It's not a fair event now.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think as many players there is going to be in the draw, as many opinions there will be.

So it's hard to say. From my experience on the tour, people say a lot of things, they do different. So I'm not going to take anybody's word for it, and we will see what happens.

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