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January 16, 2023

Victoria Azarenka

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference


6-4, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Just begin with, how does it feel to get a quality win like that under your belt first up?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, it was a nerve-racking match for me, for sure. It's never easy to start a tournament, I feel like. The Grand Slam, you know, something that you work so hard for.

So I definitely had quite a few nerves. I felt like my game wasn't at the best today, but I was able to find a way to win, which is I think important to do, especially for me, I feel that mentally I stayed really strong and I kept looking for solutions.

So that's very positive for me, and I think that from here I can look at my game and try to improve that little by little.


Q. Just in terms of where your game is at and the confidence that this win brings to you, and also just solid performance in Adelaide as well, where do you feel your game is right now? Where do you see the gaps? What are you happy with? Can you talk through that?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I mean, I feel like I have had really high-quality matches, in Adelaide, you know, whole matches, three hours long with really good quality. I played great opponents.

So for me, it's a matter of, you know, turning it a bit better in my way. You know, it was very, very close. It didn't go my way. So I do feel like I do a lot of things right. And also, to be a little bit patient with myself. I feel like mentally I'm in a very good, stable place right now. So I want to see how far I can go.

But it's kind of tricky, because, you know, I usually set up myself some goals that I want to achieve, and most of the times they are result-oriented. I think it's something that I try not to do so much and really take it step by step, because it's so quickly to go to a finish line, you know, to think about it and your mind is racing there.

So something that I want to try to break in little steps, and I have been working on that, and I think it helps me.

So I need to have patience, which is something, you know, when you win big, it's hard to be patient. So you want to, you know, get the things going.

So I feel like that is something that I'm working on. I feel like my serve has been working quite well with intention, with precision, the way I've been able to take it to my advantage.

So, yeah, you know, it's very easy to sit and pick and choose, like little things. One day you can -- my forehand didn't go as well or my backhand didn't go as well. But overall, I think there are a couple main things that I want to try to achieve this year, and those are, you know, to break it down in little steps and continue to push myself, be patient and give it my best.

Q. When you talk about kind of trying to be less results-oriented and a little bit maybe process-oriented, what does it look like? Because when you're results-oriented, you have something tangible that said you had a good week, day, right? When you're process-oriented, what are wins? What is success when you transition your mind into focusing on that instead?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, honestly, it's something very new for me. I'm towards the end of my career and I cannot say being focused on the result haven't worked for me, but I also played big tricks for me with mentally after you haven't achieved your expectation, what you wanted, it's kind of a hard hole to recover from.

That is something that I'm actually learning myself. So I would say I think of myself like taking baby steps and really work on intention and what I want to do.

If I will say, as an example, I would use, even like running on a treadmill where I thought I couldn't do something, and I just didn't want to judge can I do it or can I not do it. I just try and then see what happens. That is a pretty big win.

I think you get lost in expectation pressure, what you really, really want. Those steps are usually the things that get you to what you want. It's not easy. It's very simple to talk about it, but it's very hard to do it.

Q. When you come back here each year, is there a different feeling, a different mindset you have when you consider the success that you have had with the tournament, that you maybe don't feel at any other event?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I feel like I have never really looked back, you know, to be honest. Like, I don't look back of what happened too much. I get a lot of questions about, Well, how did you feel when you won here, et cetera, and it's very hard for me to tell, because mostly what you remember is good memories, right? My road to the trophies was far away from being smooth.

So it's very selective things. So I try not to really focus on that. I try to, what I said kind of earlier, is see how I feel day by day, because that keeps me a little bit more grounded. That keeps me a little bit more sane, as well, because I think it's pretty easy to go crazy with all the pressure and expectation and, you know, opinions, comments, and et cetera.

So I'm trying to find something that is healthy for me, that I feel is more stable.

Q. Do you find it easy to switch off when those opinions and comments and things like that are made?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: Not always. I think sometimes it can be really cruel. I think that I ask myself the question, at some point when it really gets to you, I'm like, Am I really that person? You get judged by people who don't know you.

So I cannot say, no, it doesn't, and I don't look at anything and I just, you know, block it out. I love hearing when people say that.

I do. I think it's a work in process for me more like finding who I believe I am, having that inner confidence of who you are. Not wavering from, you know, really opinions. But I think it's a constant process. It's not something, Okay, I know how to do so easily. I think it is a constant process to be responsible for that.

Q. When you talk about mental health and kind of try to stay sane through different phases, sometimes athletes and regular people can think that that thing that hurts them can also drive them. So the perfectionism amongst tennis players, the ambition, can also be the kryptonite effectively. How do you see that throughout your career? Do you wish that you had this mindset when you were younger? Let's be less results-oriented but maybe you don't get the results. Maybe that drove you. I don't know.

VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think that's a really good question, and I think that I am not the person whoever looks back and, like, I wish I have done that, because that is a wasteful thought for me. That's a wasteful energy. I don't have regrets, because I can't take things back. The way I will look in the situation is usually what I can do better.

I'm very solution-oriented person. I'm like a freak with that. If anybody has a problem, I can give you 25 solutions. That is really my personality. It's exactly the same thing where maybe there is no solution. You just have to do something that is required you to do, it's that simple, and I can look for 25 different solutions, where there might not be one, or it's out of my control.

So it is exactly that. I feel like it's the balance of your strength can be your greatest weakness, and once you go to the extreme levels of different ends, it becomes problematic. I feel like it does become problematic.

So it's about really trying to understand at which end you are. Are you at too much or you're not enough, and try to play with that.

But I think it takes a lot of awareness. Do I wish I was younger and knew all this stuff? I probably wouldn't have learned that. But at the same time, I feel like if somebody can learn from my experience who are younger, I'm very happy if that's the case.

I have always been really open about how I feel and things that I talk about. Yeah, it's not difficult for me to talk about things that I have gone through.

Q. I saw the PSG shirt and you were wearing it in Adelaide. Is that just trying to remember the vibes of the World Cup?

VICTORIA AZARENKA: You know, everybody asks me this question. Like why are you wearing PSG? Nobody understands that I have been supporting them since 2012, since Beckham was signed to the club. I have been a fan for a long time and been to many, many games.

My son is, Leo is extremely into football now. I call it football. He calls it soccer. We have this debate. He wants to play in Paris Saint-Germain. That's his dream.

That's like, it's pretty good. He saw me wearing the shirt. He will wear the shirt, same thing so we were matching.

I'm a soccer mom now, you know, and I love that. I love supporting -- I'm obnoxious, like absolutely the most obnoxious. I yell, but I'm very positive, which is, you know, I'm actually very proud, because it's like it's a completely different emotion for me to support my son. I have no shame of screaming for him, like zero. But I'm very supportive. I want him to do well. I want him to achieve his dreams.

It's been quite an experience for me just to go to his games, for example. So, yeah, I actually even asked him, Leo, do you like when mommy supports you? He goes, Yeah, I love it, Mom. Am I not too loud? He goes, Well, sometimes, but it's okay. I like it.

So it's a wholesome moment for me, for sure (smiling).

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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