Azarenka set for Wimbledon return
Originally published on 22/05/17 00:00
The 27-year-old, who gave birth to her son Leo in December, has not played since the first round of last year’s French Open.
Azarenka was not expected to make her comeback until the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford later this summer, but the two-time Australian Open champion feels she is ready to return action ahead of schedule.
"My training has been progressing well and I feel ready to start competing again – plus Leo kind of said he wants to see London and Wimbledon," Azarenka announced on Twitter. "I will be finalising my schedule before Wimbledon in the coming days and I plan to play one of the grass-court events before Wimbledon."
There are a number of grass-court tournaments in the build up to The Championships and Azarenka could return in Nottingham, 's-Hertogenbosch, Birmingham, Mallorca or Eastbourne.
Azarenka will use her protected ranking of world No.6 to gain entry into the draw at the All England Club and her return will add another dimension to the women’s game. The Belarusian will not be competing at Wimbledon to make up the numbers, though, and she will be eager to make an impression.
For much of the season there have been a number of shocks and surprises in the WTA as the top players have struggled for consistency, however, the return of Azarenka – and five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova – will add intrigue to the women's game.
Azarenka, who is currently training hard in Minsk, may not have won a grass-court tournament in her career but she has reached the last four at Wimbledon on two previous occasions.
The 27-year-old will be amongst the leading contenders to compete for the famous Venus Rosewater Dish and she will be eager to take full advantage of Serena Williams’ absence.