By Leighton Ginn
After watching Victoria Azarenka’s exciting run in March, when she captured the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open title, I had high expectations for her for the rest of the year.
But those plans will be on hold.
On Friday, Azarenka announced she is pregnant and will be due at the end of the year.
Azarenka had already been out after injuring her knee in the first round of the French Open.
It’s a happy moment for Azarenka, understandably, and family is always more important than tennis.
Selfishly, I have to admit I’m a little disappointed.
The way Azarenka played in March, including a victory over No. 1 Serena Williams in the finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, held promise that there could be a legitimate rivalry at the top.
Williams, although she hadn’t won a major title until her Wimbledon title this year, has been incredibly dominant yet again. No one appeared to really push her.
That was until Azarenka’s March run.
Azarenka displayed a ton of confidence and embraced the pressure, something we haven’t really seen from other players on the tour. Mentally, she’s been tough.
Physically, Azarenka has enough power and physical gifts to stand up to Williams.
With her injury, maybe Azarenka wouldn’t be able to get back soon, so the pregnancy probably came at a good time.
Azarenka said she plans to resume her career and has her sights on the No. 1 ranking, which is great to hear.
And there’s no reason why Azarenka couldn’t regain the No. 1 ranking, as Kim Clijsters proved it could be done. Coming back after retirement and giving birth in 2009, Clijsters would regain the No. 1 ranking two years later.
If Azarenka can return to the tour healthy, there’s every reason to believe she can achieve what Clijsters did.
The only thing is, Williams turns 35 later this year, and who knows how much longer she will continue to play at such a high level, or if she will retire soon.
For many reasons, fans will miss Azarenka, but I’m sure all tennis fans are happy for her news.