Wimbledon

Azarenka wants more help for tennis mothers

2017-07-05 19:00
Victoria Azarenka (AFP)

London - Victoria Azarenka has called on WTA chiefs to provide more support for players who return to the tour after having children.

Azarenka stepped up her bid to become the first mother to win Wimbledon in 37 years as the former world number one defeated Russian 15th seed Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-3 in the second round on Wednesday.

In her first Grand Slam since taking a year off to have her first child in December, the 27-year-old Belarusian hopes to become the first mother to lift the Wimbledon women's singles trophy since Evonne Goolagong in 1980.

Azarenka has brought her son Leo with her to Wimbledon and has her partner and mother around to help.

But she believes it is time the women's tour provided more on-site facilities for players with children, pointing out that the ATP has nurseries at their tournaments for dads who bring along their kids.

"Yeah, I hope that's the case. I have been already talking about this point to some of the people in WTA," Azarenka said.

"I'll do anything to make that happen, because I think it's really important.

"The guys do have that luxury of having the nurseries and stuff at every event and I think it's time for women to have the same benefit.

"I think for women is much more important and harder."

Only Goolagong, Margaret Court and Kim Clijsters have won a Grand Slam singles title after having a child.

Roger Federer, a seven-time Wimbledon winner, has two sets of twins who are often seen at his matches along with his wife Mirka.

But, asked if she was inspired by Federer's success while being a father, Azarenka made it clear it is women who put in the hardest work.

"Roger definitely has not inspired me. No disrespect to him, and I think it's amazing, you know, but it's a little different for him," she said with a grin.

Azarenka is one of a growing number of women trying to balance the demands of motherhood with a tennis career.

Wimbledon champion Serena Williams is currently away from the sport preparing to give birth for the first time in September, but the American star hinted she would return to action in the future.

Azarenka has spoken to Williams and Clijsters about the unique demands of being a mum on tour.

"I have talked to Serena and I have talked to Kim, actually. Kim was coming after my practice court and it was just fun to chat," she said.

"We both agreed it's the best thing that can happen to you in the world. It's nice to see some of my colleagues that have children and we have much more in common than just tennis."

Azarenka, twice a Wimbledon semi-finalist, will play British wild card Heather Watson for a place in the last 16.

Regardless of her performance at Wimbledon, Azarenka's love of parenthood has given her a new perspective on her career.

"It changed me completely in so many ways. I started to look at so many things in a different way," she said.

"It's really fun that I'm able to go home and spend time with my son.

"I just really feel like I'm enjoying myself coming here every day. Enjoying the journey and being able to bring my son here.

"Hopefully in 20 years he'll be playing here."

Read more on:    wimbledon 2017  |  victoria azarenka  |  tennis
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