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September 3, 2022

Victoria Azarenka

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference


6-3, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Two sets in convincing fashion. Hour and 20 minutes. Your thoughts on your performance today.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I thought that this was probably my most solid match this tournament in terms of, you know, I felt like I started very solid and I kind of kept my foot on the gas pedal and just really, you know, kept raising my intensity, game after game.

I felt that I played really good in also important moments. On breakpoints I really took my chances, was really effective from defense to offense, kind of changing and shifting the game from one, two shots. I think that worked really well.

Also, I served smart. I felt like I created a lot of opportunities for myself to move forward. Missed a couple of volleys which, you know, I felt like maybe transcended from my mixed yesterday, but overall was pretty good.


Q. After all these years, do you know when you're gonna get on a little roll like this, either in the weeks leading up to it or even in the hours leading up to it? Or is it kind of flukey?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I wouldn't call it flukey, because it's not like it happens once in ten years.

Q. No, what I'm saying is is it something you know, or is it something, Hey...

VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, I don't think that's really a possibility, because, you know, there is so many factors in our sport that can attribute to your performance. Some days you warm up and then it becomes windy. Some days it becomes hotter.

Tennis, to me, is about adaptation. So I feel like sometimes when you get a lot of, you know, kind of matches in tournaments and tournaments after tournaments, you kind of feel a little bit more like your game. But I had so many like breaks here from the game this season that it's not -- I didn't really feel like I'm on the roll. It was hard for me to get kind of on the roll.

So coming into this tournament, I was, like, Okay, I need to take it one match at a time, and try to manage the best in that moment when I'm on the court. I felt that today was the best that I have managed the momentum throughout the match.

Q. Thinking about how last year's US Open was all about the teenagers, this year we have you, Petra Kvitova, Pliskova, Cornet, Zheng, Riske, all in your 30s. Thrilled to see that class of women succeeding, and wondered if you had any thoughts about why that's so.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, we had so many retirements this year, as well. I feel like in one way a lot of girls that were there when I was coming up are retiring. At the same time some of them are kind of resurging. I think that's I think the word.

I would definitely point out Caroline Garcia, who has been on an incredible run, and she's younger obviously than me and Petra, for example, but also has been on the tour for quite some time, and really bringing the level quite high. Pretty impressive to see her do so well.

You know, I feel like, you know, we don't lose our level as much. You know, there is a lot of things that plays into our sport. Personal lives also. When you're 30 gets in the way a little more than maybe you are 20, you have a lot more things to think about than just tennis.

It's great to see. I mean, I was watching Garbine's and Petra's match and tiebreak was just fantastic tennis. You could see the full crowd going crazy. I mean, I was warming up for my match, but I was so invested in that match. Like, you know, I had my palms sweaty. I was like sweating like watching the match.

So that's just beautiful for our game to see that diversity of, you know, very talented young players.

There is Coco Gauff is doing amazing. I was just saying in Indian Wells that I feel like she's on the brink to really break through, and enjoy a lot to watch her.

Also, there is the young Chinese girl I feel super, super talented. I'm going to butcher her name. I don't know her first name last but last name Zheng, the righty. Also very impressive.

So I feel like women's game, there is so much diversity, so much fun to watch young players, more veteran players, and also resurging players who've already been on top and making their way back.

Q. Because you mentioned being able to adapt in a match, I'm wondering if we're putting that together with learning to do that is not something a coach can teach you. Adapting is something that happens real time. Is that something you feel like you're better at than maybe when you were younger?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, patience, definitely experience. You know, it all plays in my favor, I would say, this time.

I think adaptation is that it's okay that you fail. It depends how you come back from it. I see a lot of, in woman's game, particularly I see so many coaches that make their players dependent on them, and I think that's very dangerous. It's very manipulative too. I wish that kind of subject was talked about a little bit more.

I think the job of the coach is to teach your player not to need you. I hope that young players really look for that, you know, to really depend on themself, because it's an individual sport. Listen, be very open-minded, and absorb and be like a sponge. I've heard Serena talk about that, being a sponge. You know, 23 Grand Slams, so many titles, and kind of have that learning student mentality but really take control of your own career a little more.

Q. At different times you have just given some real extraordinary insights into the game and you just talked about the coaches manipulating players, and there have been incredible stories of real severe manipulation and exploitation of young players that you may know about. Could you talk about that subject, sort of kick-start what the elements of that dynamic is.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, it's a very sensitive subject, because, you know, you won't hear those stories unless players come out and tell those stories. It happens right and left on the tour, which is unfortunate.

Our job, you know, is to be better at safeguarding. You know, as player council, it's almost like No. 1 subject, you know, to us. Because we see those vulnerable young ladies that getting taken advantage of in different situations.

It's really sad and really makes me emotional, because, you know, I have a son that I don't see, you know, that happens so much on the men's tour. And if I had a daughter, I would have a question would she want to play tennis, that would be a very big concern in that way for me.

So, you know, just recent story with Fiona Ferro that came out. I mean, I don't know how to put it in words sometimes. All you can do is, like, check in on the person and kind of give your hand what I can do, what I can help with.

So, I mean, I applaud her for being brave. I hope this situation she's gonna come out of it stronger and tennis is not ruined for her because of that. That's I think very, very heavy topic.

But it's the topic that has to come out more, and I think it's your guys' job also to not expose it, because it sounds like, you know, it sounds pretty weird when I say that, but to do the research, to do the research, help people to open up more.

You know, it's hopefully one by one try to eliminate that type of situations.

Q. Are you sort of saying there is a range from the cases of just outright exploitation and severe damage to subtlety on court where young women players are just dependent tactically, strategically, emotionally on court in matches also?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, I can only speak from my opinion. I don't want to make factual things. But from my opinion I see that. I think some of the players that I talk to also speak about this situation.

In the end of the day -- the problem here is when somebody is winning, nobody's going to go and say, Okay, that's the thing. When the winning stops, it becomes dark and there is nobody to hold your hand. That is the moment where it's not talked about.

Q. This is a question about style of play in the women's game. It's frequently talked about, that the power in the game has surged over the last 20 years or so. But are there other ways that the game has changed on the women's side that people don't talk about subtleties that you've noticed in your long career, where we're at, compared from the start of your career to now and then going forward?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, the biggest attribute I would say is the physicality. You know, a lot of young players have this pure, raw explosivity on their shots. The courts become faster, the balls -- I know there is a lot of conversation about balls -- but it is true when the ball is faster and lighter, you hit the ball down the middle, it's hard to do something about that.

But the same time, we had Ash Barty being No. 1 with a bigger variety of game, with a slice, coming into the net. So there is still variety. I don't think there is that much variety, because I still believe that domination is more about power players, but, you know, we also have a magician like Ons Jabeur with her tricks.

So there is that. But I feel like, yeah, the power is taking more, like you can see it a little bit more.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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