By E.J. Crawford
In 2009, Kim Clijsters staged her return to tennis during the US Open Series. After a two-year absence from the game to have her first child, the Belgian rejoined the professional ranks at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. She reached the quarterfinals there and the round of 16 at the Rogers Cup, using that momentum to capture her second US Open title to close the summer.
Eight years later, Victoria Azarenka hopes to follow in her footsteps.
In an interview with the Tennis Channel, the former world No. 1 and two-time US Open finalist, who gave birth to her first child, son Leo, in December, said she started training about three weeks ago and plans to return to the WTA tour this summer, calling it a “continuation of my career” rather than a “comeback.”
"My goal, for now, is to be ready for summer, the US Open Series, and we’ll see where it goes,” said Azarenka. “This is realistically where I want to start. Also, if Leo is ready to travel the world, I want to be comfortable. I don't want to rush anything. I've done it before after injuries and it didn't work out well. Even though it’s a completely different story this time, I want to give myself the best opportunity.”
The 27-year-old Belarusian has been at her best on hard courts throughout her career. Both of her Grand Slam titles came at the Australian Open, as have 19 of her 20 career tour titles. That collection includes US Open Series titles at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif., in 2010 and at the Western & Southern Open in 2013.
For the complete story on Azarenka’s comeback plan, including video of her Tennis Channel interview, visit the WTA website.