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Vika Azarenka Wins First Match @BNP Open Tennis

Victoria Azarenka from Belarus in action against Sloane Stephens of USA during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 11 March 2018. EPA-EFE/MIKE NELSON



INDIAN WELLS—Victoria Azarenka admits she’s amazed she’s been able to keep calm amid personal storms in recent months.


The 28-year-old Azarenka has been engaged in an ongoing custody case with her ex-boyfriend Billy McKeague, who is the father of their son Leo.


Azarenka was forced to withdraw from both the US Open and the Australian Open because she could not take 15-month Leo out of the state of California without his father.


The two-time Grand Slam champion, who fell to US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the BNP Paribas Open second round today, said she’s surprised she’s been able to stay positive while enduring the severe stress of the custody battle.


“You know, this whole process, honestly, amazes me that I still have my shit together, to be honest,” a candid Azarenka said. “I really am surprised that the challenges that I have been put through and I’m still going through is—I wouldn’t expect myself to be this calm and this positive and this optimistic for this long period of time.


“So there is definitely a lot of things and a lot of strength that I’m finding myself outside of the court. And I need to get, you know, confidence back because there is no other way than going out there and failing, getting up, failing, getting up, but just working hard.”


Two years ago, Azarenka swept Serena Williams in the Indian Wells final becoming the first player to defeat Serena in four finals. The Belarusian went on to win Miami joining Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters as just the third woman to sweep the Sunshine Double.


Since her Key Biscayne triumph, pregnancy and her ongoing legal case have limited the former No. 1 to just 14 matches.


“(I have) a lot of work to do. Obviously a lot of work to do,” said Azarenka, who plans to play Miami later this month. “For me, the most important is to have a clear head, which obviously right now is not. Once I figure all my stuff outside of the court, I’ll be able to focus and be 100 percent when I’m on the court to be there.”

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