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January 24, 2023

Victoria Azarenka

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference


6-4, 6-1

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Hello, everybody.

THE MODERATOR: Vika, congratulations.


THE MODERATOR: A great performance tonight. Talk about how happy you are to be here in the semis, a place you have such great memories from others years.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I am very happy about today's match. I felt like I executed really well. I thought by executing really well, it paid off and the result came.

I'm very excited. I feel like I definitely appreciate being on the court more now. Yeah, I'm excited to give it another go in the semifinal and try my best.

But I do want to kind of stay present and continue to do my daily work step by step.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You said on the court last year you played with a bit of anxiety at times. How did you tackle that and recognize it and try to move on from it?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I don't think you recognize it right away. I think it builds up until you hit kind of a pretty bad spot where nothing kind of makes sense. You feel kind of lost. I was at the point where I couldn't find anything that I feel good about myself, not like even one sentence. I broke a few racquets after my match in Ostrava (smiling). That was kind of a very tough moment for me.

From then, I kind of tried to take it more simple. I started with not trying to be positive, just trying to be neutral, not to go negative. Accepting the anxiety that I have. Accepting the fear that I have. Kind of working through it. That was step by step.

I kept trying to go a little step forward, another challenge, another step forward. I learned how to kind of start to build a process that is step by step instead of kind of jumping to conclusion in the situation, jumping to a result, or to the goal, and really focused on step by step, which is pretty hard to do. I think it requires a lot of work, daily work, that I'm doing.

But, yeah, I'm pretty happy that the process that I'm going through makes me feel confident about myself, happy about myself, and helps me to be more open, be more accepting, be compassionate. 'Compassionate' was a very hard word for me to understand.

Q. The anxiety and the fear that you're talking about, how much of that are you saying was manifesting itself when you're playing tennis versus when you're away from playing tennis?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I would say it's definitely connected. I don't think that one goes without the other. I feel like tennis court, probably for everybody, but for me especially, triggers a lot of those fears, a lot of anxiety.

It's kind of like an open canvas. When everything comes there at a high-pressure moment, high-stress moment, weird emotions come on the court. Sometimes, like, What the hell are you thinking about on the court?

A lot of it is about not running away from them. A lot of times I've been taught, I hear some people say, Try not to think about it. I'm like, What the (expletive) are you talking about? How are you able not to think about anything?

I understand the concept of being in the zone, things can feel slower, or you hear sounds, whatever it is. But not to think about anything, that's a hard one for me to understand.

It's just like a work in progress every day.

Q. What were the fears?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Fears of failing is a big one. To not be able to do what I want to do. So subconsciously sometimes it stops you from doing it.

I think the point of being uncomfortable is scary. I've had panic attacks before. For me to recognize the difference was a hard one.

Q. What are the moments you enjoy most now when you're on court?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: What do I enjoy the most? Being able to accept everything that I'm kind of going through. If I'm not playing well, I'm looking for a solution how to overcome that, which in a lot of cases probably in the past I would just react and be, like, angry or whatever emotions would come.

I feel like I'm enjoying the process. I feel like it's such a cliché thing to say, and a lot of people say that, but I actually mean that. Even if I said it in the past, I didn't really understand it fully. Now I do.

I think that gives me gratitude and appreciation for that.

Q. Thinking back to I think it was your match against Sloane Stephens 10 years ago now, you leaving the court. Now that you've gone through this process in the last six months, year, do you now understand what happened back then a little bit more? I wonder what you might have said to yourself back then.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Do you know what happened 10 years ago? That's the thing.

It was one of the worst things that I've ever gone through in my professional career, the way I was treated after that moment, the way I had to explain myself until 10:30 p.m. at night because people didn't want to believe me. I actually can resonate what Novak said the other day.

There is sometimes, like, I don't know, incredible desire for a villain and a hero story that has to be written. But we're not villains, we're not heroes, we are regular human beings that go through so many, many things.

Assumptions and judgments, all those comments, are just shit because nobody's there to see the full story. It didn't matter how many times I said my story, it did not cut through.

Actually it's funny that you're saying that because I was thinking about it. It took me 10 (expletive) years to get over it. I finally am over that.

I'm sorry for cussing by the way. I hope I don't get fined.

Q. You're in Australia, it's fine.


Q. Talking about all this, the 10 years of getting over these emotions, what would it mean to you to break through again and win your third major here?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Too far to think about that. I think that my answer to earlier questions kind of gives you a little bit of a glimpse of how mentally I am, trying to work through the process. So thinking about winning, I mean, it's there obviously, kind of flying around, the thoughts.

I don't really want to take my mind there. I just really want to focus on something that works for me, that keeps me focused, that keeps me I want to say calm, just keeps me at peace. I think that is a very important part for me, to be at peace.

Q. On today's match, in terms of what you were trying to do out there, execute, it's been a while since we've seen that level front to back against a high-quality opponent from you. It felt like a 'vintage' performance, the word everybody is throwing around.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Seriously? You guys have to come up with some new words. Some of those captions I see, I've been seeing them for 10 years. You need to find some new ones.

Q. In terms of playing at that level, what was the key? Was it just an execution question, your game plan was absolutely clear, it was just the execution was top-notch today?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Probably a little bit of both. I felt like I've actually played some really good tennis from the beginning of the year. I had some incredible matches in Adelaide. Very tight. Very good quality. Just wasn't really able to turn them into my way.

Buy I felt also it kind of gave me that experience of those momentum shifts and what to do in the moment. So I feel like that helped me to execute in the important moments a little better right now.

But, yeah, today I knew I have to play fast, I have to not give her opportunity to step in, I have to mix it up because level here, (indiscernible) level, there's nobody better than Jess, she just doesn't miss.

I felt like I did some interesting slices. You know what, I was like, you're doing the right thing. Even if it looks like crap, it's fine. It's the right way to do it. Just think about a better execution.

Q. You talked about assumptions and judgments. Can you expound on that, what you think they were, why you think you received them?


Q. You spoke about assumptions and judgments from other people.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Solutions from other people? That's a little stretch. Judgments, yes.

Q. Assumptions.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Assumptions, sorry.

Q. Could you expound on that, why you think you received them, what exactly they were?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: In what way I received them?

Q. Yes.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I'm puzzled. How can I explain that?

I mean, I've been called that I'm cheating, that I'm faking, that I was trying to throw people off their game. It's everything that is so wrong about my character if somebody actually knows me.

At some point I've heard that, like, she has this thing that is bad or this thing is bad, whatever. At some point you're like, Really? Am I? Those doubts starts to creep in.

Now I just don't care. Like, I am more and more confident in what I know about myself, and I'm at peace with that. Those comments, judgments, they're there. I notice them. But I don't care.

Q. I noticed you've been wearing the PSG kit on the court and your pressers. Which performance were you more impressed with, yours or their 7-nil win?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: 5-5 for Mbappe is pretty remarkable. They didn't play that great of a team, so I'll take mine (smiling).

Q. Looking ahead to the semis, facing Rybakina, what is going to be the key for you?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: It will be a great matchup. We only played once last year. Was a bit of kind of a weird match for me. I'm looking forward to having that challenge.

She's an incredible player. She won Wimbledon last year. I think maybe she had a little bit of up and downs, but she's a very good, solid player. Her ranking obviously doesn't tell the full story.

Yeah, she's very powerful. Big serve. She's in the semifinal, so she's obviously playing amazing. Had some really tough wins, good wins.

So, yeah, it's going to be a big challenge. I'm excited about that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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