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June 28, 2011

Victoria Azarenka


6-3, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Do you feel ready for your first Wimbledon title?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It's still a long way. I still have to go through the semifinal, and I just came off my first, you know, win in the quarterfinals. So I'm just looking to relax a little bit and to get ready for my next game and see what happens.

Q. Would you say that's the best tennis you've played so far?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Today? Definitely the best result. I still think I can improve there and there, which is always for everybody. But I think I played pretty solid.
I really stayed focused today, because it was really difficult, you know, to stay the whole day that you're gonna play, you're not gonna play. So it was a difficult part. That's what I managed the best today.

Q. How was it coping with moving from Court 1 to Centre?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It was okay for me. I knew that probably we're never going to be able to finish on Court 1. It was getting dark and it was raining.
Actually I think when we started the first game it was a little bit humid, the court. I could feel it a little bit slippery. So I was glad they moved us, and I was sure that we were going to finish the match.

Q. How did you feel yourself today, change of conditions? Yesterday was too hot; now it's a little colder. You had some problems in the last years with health in hot weather.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I never had problems with the hot weather actually, and the reasons I retired in Australia when it was hot was completely different. It had nothing to do with heat. But, well, for me it's okay. The whole week and the previous week was cold, so I was prepared. I always have a longer sleeve clothes, you know, to keep warm.
I'm managing the situations good, because you always have to adjust. You know, you have to be smart with your warmup - with your warmup on the court as well. It's all about the adjustments.

Q. Could you talk about coming to America? Do you think the American culture has helped you or not so much?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: The conditions definitely, you know, because in Belarus it's impossible to play outdoor for a long period of time. It's about five months out of the whole year you're able to play outdoor. That's the biggest problem.
Other than that, I never really had an American coach, you know, so I cannot say about the American culture. But the conditions and the facilities they have in America I think is excellent, and it's a great preparation to train there.

Q. What are the qualities of Tamira's game?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think she's a very consistent player from the baseline. She can be aggressive. She has very deep shots. You know, it's difficult sometimes to play pace off it because it comes so deep, and, well, she's solid, you know.
You have to really go get her, really - how do you say - force her to miss, otherwise she'll be really good on the baseline.

Q. Are you surprised this is the best you've done at a Grand Slam?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I cannot be surprised because, well, that's the goals I'm working for. I think I'm playing pretty well, you know. Looking at the rankings everybody says, You should have been already in the semifinals.
It was a great win for me to go through that. It was important. I'm just happy to be in the semifinal, and looking forward to work even harder.

Q. You lost the last two games against Kvitova. Is it important before the semifinals?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, it's not, because it's going to be a different story. You know, it's a completely different game even from we played last year here. It's going to be completely different game, different stage of the tournament.
So, uhm, I mean, she's in a great form and she's playing well, so I really have to play my best game and try my best.

Q. How much involvement did your parents have in your tennis?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: My mom. My mom has a huge impact. She's been my number one fan all the time and helped me with everything off court, and we have a pretty good relationship with her. She knows that she's not my coach, she's not my agent or nobody, she's just my mom who really helps me being my mom. And when I need her, she's always there.

Q. So when you were young, is she the one who took you to tournaments, to practice, and all of that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No. Well, she was working the tennis center, so that's where I was practicing. She was trying to be there. But my mom and my dad, they were really working really hard, you know, to be able to send me to tournaments, so...
She wasn't really traveling until I was starting to make my own money.

Q. At what point were they comfortable saying you could go to a coach, you can go to America? A lot of parents won't do that.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: No, my mom is really realistic. She's really great in that. She has a sense, you know, the point where you have to let go a little bit. Actually let go was very young. It was when I was 12.
But she's always been there no matter what, you know. I owe a lot to her to be here.

Q. Last year you got knocked out by Kvitova and then you went on and reached more quarterfinals in slams. Do you feel a lot more confident now that you can beat her?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I feel different. You know, for me, the previous matches is previous matches. I take my game and approach to the matches completely different since March, you know.
I'm really out there to do my best every day. So I'm not afraid to, you know, lose a match, to fail somewhere. I know if I did my best, I have no regrets.

Q. If you were to obviously get through to the final, what would that mean to you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, you know what, let's have this talk after, right, and I'll tell you.

Q. Do you like playing lefties or not?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yeah, I have a lefty coach. I play against him every day. So, yeah, I enjoy.

Q. Does the grunting give you a good feeling on the exhalation? Does it give you a rhythm? A fight? How does it help you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: How I started, when I was a kid, I was very weak. I needed that little extra power, extra push, to hit the ball over the net. I think that became a part of my breathing, a part of my movement.
It's kind of like, well, your body is a machine a little bit, right? It makes noises. So for me it's perfectly natural now. I really have to exhale with that to move, to hit the shot.
It's not coming of, you know, I want to piss somebody off. It's just natural me.

Q. Seles was once sort of pressurized into holding back her grunt during a final here and lost and regretted that. Have you ever tried to repress it? Does it affect the way you play?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I haven't tried. I haven't really tried because that's why it's natural, you know. I do it in tournaments. I do it in practice. No matter what.
You can see the exercise -- you see weight lifters when they lift the bar they do the noise. I don't think a lot of people complain in the stadium there, right?

Q. When you were 12 and your mother sent you away, how hard was that on you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: It was hard. But, you know, I knew what I'm doing it for. That was my dream, and I really wanted to achieve that. So, you know, you had to do some of the sacrifices.
My mom was away, but as I said, she was always with me, no matter what. She's the one that helps me anytime, any part of my career.

Q. Is it more difficult to play Kvitova on grass than other surfaces?

Q. Yes.
I don't know. Actually, I'm not sure. Obviously it's a really good surface for her. She has a good serve, very aggressive shot. But the grass is tricky. You know, it can work in your favor. Sometimes it's not going to be working in your favor.
I like to play on grass as well. I think it suits my game really well. We'll see.

Q. Do you think the grass became slower than last years?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I think so. I think the game became faster and grass, the bounce is a little bit higher than it was before. But you don't see much of a roughed grass on the net, on the service line, where everybody comes to the net.

Q. What changed in March? You said you've taken a different approach since then.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Just happy, you know, always on the court. I'm looking forward to every challenges as I take, I try to be disciplined to what I'm working hard for, and I'm just enjoying myself much more on the court.

Q. What triggered that?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: A long talk with my grandmother. (Smiling.) Because after Doha tournament I didn't really want to play tennis. I just wanted to, you know, go home and rest.
My mom asked me, Oh, what are you going to do? I said, I'm going to study. She laughed out loud.

Q. Looks very quiet during this tournament. No nervous. No something on court, emotion. It's a new style of your play or something else?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Well, I've been like this for a while, I think. I really worked on my mental strength, handling my bad emotions. I'm always going to be emotional, as I said. I'm really a passionate person. But I try to take the bad emotions away.

Q. What did your grandmother say to you?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Honestly, if I would tell you you would not be interested, because it had nothing to do with tennis.

Q. More interesting.
VICTORIA AZARENKA: I say I don't want to do something that I'm not enjoying. Then she says, Then don't do it. You have to be happy. She was telling me those stories, how hard she was working. It was like, Well, you just have to shut up, you know, and stop complaining because you have a pretty damn good life. Just work out there.

Q. What was she doing when she was working?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: She was actually working in kindergarten with kids. She's been doing a lot of work, having two, three jobs at one time, so...

Q. You said your mother laughed when you told her you were going to study?

Q. How come?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: She knows that I like to study, but I'm not gonna be fulfilling that for a long time. I'm just going to get bored, because tennis is what I really love. I just had to really take a step back and realize that that is true.

Q. She could tell with your mood that you were basically just in a place where you were saying you were frustrated but a week or two you were going to go back to what you really love?
VICTORIA AZARENKA: Yes. I think she's a very wise woman. She really said, Just come back home, enjoy some time, and you decide.

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