Melbourne - Former champion Victoria Azarenka, who has been
locked in a custody battle over her young son, pulled out of the Australian
Open on Monday.
The two-time winner had been handed a wildcard into the
opening Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne, starting on January 15, but will
not be making the trip.
"It's unfortunate that Azarenka is unable to travel to
Australia this year," tournament director Craig Tiley tweeted.
"The Australian Open is her favourite tournament and
she's looking forward to returning to Melbourne next year."
Azarenka returned from maternity leave in the middle of last
year but skipped the US Open after a Los Angeles judge presiding in a custody
case over her son Leo ruled she could not leave California until the matter had
She had been in doubt for Melbourne Park after pulling out
of last week's Auckland Classic.
The Belarusian is the latest top name to withdraw from the
Serena Williams, herself a new mother, opted out last week,
saying she was still not at the level needed for a major tournament after
Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori are also non-starters after
succumbing to injury.