With Victoria Azarenka returning from pregnancy, and playing only her third match since giving birth in December, there is a new contender for the title.
Although Azarenka did not have the strongest of starts, once she got going, she did not stop. In her first round match at this year’s Wimbledon, Azarenka played Cici Bellis, and defeated her in three sets, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1. Azarenka’s start made it seem as if she would be making an early exit, going down 4-0 in the first set, but after showing some amazing play and breaking to make it 4-1, Azarenka found her groove and never looked back, sweeping Bellis off her feet. In fact, Azarenka only lost five points in the first four games of the deciding set.
“It was really a kind of nervous start for me. I was not finding my range, not really moving the way I like to move and the way I have been practicing, actually,” Azarenka said about her opening set.
Considering the fact that Azarenka has not played a Grand Slam since the 2016 French Open, Azarenka seems to be back in the game not only physically, but mentally as well. Azarenka has said that she feels really good to be back on court, at such a big stage.
“I definitely feel like I started to create something for myself. I started to create the points. I started to find my range better. I started to see the point better and move better,” said Azarenka about the way she was able to turn the match around.
“I think I became a little bit too defensive,” said Bellis. “Even if I hit slightly short, she would really take advantage of the ball. I feel like I had to really make every shot perfect.”
Azarenka will face Elena Vesnina on Wednesday, the fifteenth seed, and should be a good indicator of whether Azarenka has indeed returned in full form.