Victoria Azarenka is a tennis player from Belarus, who has been one of the very few to consistently challenge Serena Williams in the last decade.
Azarenka has won two Grand Slam singles titles at the Australian Open - in 2012 and 2013 - but has been sidelined by injury and pregnancy in recent years. She has earned widespread praise for her intensity and determination during matches, as well as her work ethic.
Best finish at each of the four Grand Slams:
Australian Open: 2-time Champion (2012, 2013)
French Open: Semifinalist (2013)
Wimbledon: Semifinalist (2011, 2012)
US Open: Runner-up (2012, 2013)
Highest Ranking: No. 1
Weeks at No. 1: 51
Style of play
Azarenka is an aggressive baseliner who likes to step into the court and move her opponents around. While she doesn't go for big winners too frequently, she always hits with spin, pace and depth to open up the court.
Azarenka is willing to approach the net to finish points whenever she has the upper hand in a rally. She doesn't vary the pace of her groundstrokes too much, but does hit the backhand slice when pushed wide on that wing.
Strengths and weaknesses
Azarenka's best shot is widely considered to be her backhand. She can hit it both crosscourt and down the line with pace, and defends extremely well off it.
Azarenka's movement is another strong feature of her game. She has excellent footwork and anticipation which she uses to track down most balls. She also uses her feet aggressively, often winning the battle of court positioning.
Azarenka doesn't have the biggest serve, but she is consistent with it. Also, while her forehand can sometimes leak errors, by and large it is a weapon that puts pressure on her opponents with its depth and spin.
Azarenka was born in Minsk, Belarus, but moved to Scottsdale, Arizona in 2002 and ultimately to Monaco in 2012. She started playing tennis at the age of seven, having been introduced to the sport by her mother Alla.
She gets her middle name from her father Fyodor, and has an elder brother named Max.
Azarenka was a very successful junior, winning the Australian Open girls' title as well as the US Open girls' title in 2005, while also finishing the year ranked World No. 1.
The Belrussian's first taste of Grand Slam success on the senior tour came in mixed doubles. She won the 2007 US Open (with Max Mirnyi) and the 2008 French Open (with Bob Bryan), and later also went on to win the gold medal in mixed doubles at the 2012 Olympics.
Azarenka eventually started dominating singles too, finishing the year 2012 as the World No. 1 player. She lost to Serena Williams in consecutive US Open finals in 2012 and 2013, but pushed the legendary American to her limit each time. In fact, while Azarenka may have won just 4 out of 21 matches against Williams, she has been the only player in the last decade to consistently stretch the 23-time Slam champion.
Azarenka dated American singer Redfoo in 2013, and later got into a relationship with Billy McKeague. With McKeague she has one child, a son named Leo born in December 2016; she had to take nearly a year off from tennis during her pregnancy.
Azarenka and McKeague split up in 2017, and later got drawn into a custody battle for their son. That case is still ongoing, and it restricts Azarenka's travel to tennis tournaments around the world.
Azarenka has been unlucky with injuries and personal issues in recent times, and has spoken about the depression she has suffered when she's been away from the tennis court. However, she remains one of the best players in the world when she's on her game, and has become a symbol of strength and perseverance for single mothers everywhere.
Social media presence:
Victoria Azarenka Instagram: @vichka35
Victoria Azarenka Twitter: @vika7