"I admire these women that have kids" - Justine Henin in awe of mothers like Victoria Azarenka who return to the sport after giving birth

Victoria Azarenka plays tennis with son Leo
Victoria Azarenka with son Leo

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin recently lauded Victoria Azarenka for returning to the tour after giving birth to her son Leo. Henin stated that she has a great deal of admiration and respect for female tennis players who make a comeback to tennis after giving birth.

Azarenka gave birth to son Leo in December 2016 following which she took some time off from tennis. She returned the following year and has been going strong since, having recently progressed to the semifinals of the 2023 Australian Open.

The Belarusian beat an in-form Jessica Pegula 6-1, 6-4 on Tuesday to reach the last four of her most successful Slam, where she is a two-time champion. Speaking on Eurosport after Azarenka's win, Justine Henin lauded the former and other mothers who have returned to the sport after giving birth.

"I have kids myself, and I admire these women that have kids and then decide to come back on the tour,” said Henin.
"We know and we can imagine how hard it is - physically, mentally - to combine these very demanding jobs, and we see it more often now," she added.

When it comes to female tennis players who have returned to the sport after giving birth, Victoria Azarenka finds herself in the illustrious company of Margaret Court, Serena Williams, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Lindsay Davenport, and Kim Clijsters. Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, and Elina Svitolina will also join this list having recently announced their pregnancy (Osaka and Kerber) or given birth (in Svitolina's case).

Meanwhile, Henin believes Azarenka's pregnancy and subsequent motherhood are likely to have been a great learning curve for the latter.

"Probably she (Victoria Azarenka) learnt a lot of things, and also we can feel that she takes some distance from that. She takes distance from tennis, even if she wants to play well, to win the most she can," Henin said.
"But still, she is a mum, there is another life besides tennis, and we can feel a different state of mind and it’s just great to see because it offers the kind of tennis that she gave us today," she added.

"I don’t know how you get through her" - Laura Robson believes Victoria Azarenka is the woman to beat at the 2023 Australian Open

Victoria Azarenka celebrates a point against Jessica Pegula at the 2023 Australian Open
Victoria Azarenka celebrates a point against Jessica Pegula at the 2023 Australian Open

Olympic silver medalist and former World No. 27 Laura Robson weighed in on Victoria Azarenka's chances of going all the way at the 2023 Australian Open. Robson firmly believes that the Belarusian is the woman to beat, citing how the latter displayed "perfect tennis" in her win over Jessica Pegula.

"She’s honest enough to say that ‘look I wasn’t doing the right things last year, but I am now, and I am putting myself in the conversation," Robson said.
"I just feel like now all of a sudden, she’s got to be one of the main contenders because I don’t know how you get through her - the way she was moving tonight, the way she was defending and mixing it up - it was just perfect tennis," she added.

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Edited by Stan
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