Home » Victoria Azarenka: Honestly authentic

Victoria Azarenka: Honestly authentic

When people talk about your career, the narrative is often around your return as a mother. But you have also been very vocal in discussing mental health. Did you intend to become a trailblazer on these fronts?

“I don’t really like the trailblazing labels. I think, to me, it doesn’t come as something that I want to advocate for, that’s not my lane I want to take. I’ve just always been very honest. I’ve always been very authentic in who I am, and it came with good and the bad. I had to learn how to reserve myself sometimes and learn how to be vulnerable and be okay with that. I became a mum and I wanted to make sure that we have the right rules at least or something that can help other people. I didn’t benefit from them, and it doesn’t matter.

“I want our sport to be better when I stop playing, to be way better than when I started. I feel like there’s a lot of amazing players, amazing legends like Billie Jean King and many, many others who were able to open doors for us. I don’t know if it lays on me, I think there’s a lot of people who are doing it, but I do want to make sure that I put a little bit of my energy and my effort into improving the tour. There’s a lot of things where we still have opportunity. I don’t want to say we need to do it, but we have opportunity to improve.”

Speaking up, especially when discussing mental health, is not easy. Are you proud you have been able to do this?

“With mental health, I think there’s different ways of talking about it. I come from a background where you don’t really talk about your feelings. So, I had to learn that. I watched my parents and how they communicate, and people around me how they communicate. For me it was a trial-and-error type of relationship with that, but we are all still human beings, we still have so much baggage and so many things outside of tennis. I feel like if sharing something I go through helps – because I know a lot of people go through similar things – if that, can help somebody to show how I deal with it, maybe it will help.

STATS: Azarenka joins AO’s exclusive half-century club

“I feel like athletes and celebrities are put on this pedestal like they’re not human beings, like they’re super humans and that’s really not true. We’re all human. It’s just we are probably really good at our job and that stands out, but that doesn’t mean that we are great at other things. I think what helps me, at least as an athlete, is that determination to improve, to get better, to work on my craft, remain disciplined so in other areas of my life, I can apply those tools and hopefully work on them as well. So in that way, I think we do train those tools to help you in other areas, but obviously not everybody does it and I hope that it kind of helps more young people to have those conversations, to learn from them, to try things, to have fun, but really keep learning. Your tennis career is short, but you have a lot of time to learn.”