If Victoria Azarenka can make it, the Australian Open will welcome her with open arms.
Tournament director Craig Tiley announced Wednesday that the first Grand Slam of the season will give its two-time champion a wild card into the singles draw.
“Vika’s current situation is obviously very difficult for her and we have reached out to offer any support we can. As a two-time Australian Open champion we’ve awarded her a wildcard and look forward to seeing her back on court in Melbourne in January,” Tiley said in a statement.
The press-release quote from Azarenka:
“I’m so excited about coming back to Melbourne for the Australian Open, it’s my favourite tournament. I’ve won there twice and always feel so comfortable on court and the city is great,” Azarenka said. “It’s been a tough year and being able to come back to the AO will be a really positive way to start 2018. I’d like to thank Craig and his team for their understanding and support and can’t wait to see all my Aussie fans again.”
Will the wild card be used?
The question, of course, is whether Azarenka will be able to resolve the custody of her one-year-old son Leo in time to start the 2018 season.
The WTA tuneup event in Auckland, New Zealand previously awarded the former No. 1 a wild card back on Nov. 21.
With her WTA ranking currently standing at No. 210, Azarenka would have been on the bubble to make the qualifying draw at the Australian Open.
But so far, there has been no indication that her custody issues are nearing a resolution. At times during the fall, she was in court several times a week, Tennis.Life was told.
When she does return, she’s going to be pretty rusty. Azarenka’s last match was a fourth-round defeat at Wimbledon. By the time Auckland rolls around, that’s six months without a match, piled on top of another year away during her maternity leave.
She also finds herself without a team, a consequence of her uncertain situation.
Coach Michael Joyce was the first to leave. He accepted a job coaching top-10 Brit Jo Konta.
Last week, trainer Ashcon Rezazadeh announced he also was leaving.