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Victoria Azarenka could miss U.S. Open due to custody battle

Tennis - Wimbledon - London, Britain - July 7, 2017 Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka celebrates during her third round match against Great Britain’s Heather Watson REUTERS/Toby Melville
Tennis - Wimbledon - London, Britain - July 7, 2017 Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka celebrates during her third round match against Great Britain’s Heather Watson REUTERS/Toby Melville

(Reuters) - Two-time grand slam winner Victoria Azarenka said on Thursday she may withdraw from the U.S. Open as she is unwilling to part with her son during legal proceedings to separate from her former partner.

Azarenka returned to action in June, after the birth of her son Leo last December, and reached the last 16 at the Mallorca Open in June and Wimbledon in July during her comeback.

The 28-year-old, who reached the finals at the U.S. Open in 2012 and 2013, remains optimistic that legal arrangements can be worked out to allow her to compete shortly.

"The way things stand now is that the only way I can play in the U.S. Open this year is if I leave Leo behind in California, which I'm not willing to do," the Belarusian said in a statement.

"Balancing child care and a career is not easy for any parent, but it is a challenge I am willing to face and embrace... No one should ever have to decide between a child and their career, we are strong enough to do both," she said.

"I look forward to hopefully having positive developments soon so that this difficult situation can be resolved and I can get back to competing."

The U.S. Open, which is the fourth and final grand slam of the year, will be held from Aug. 28-Sept. 10 in New York City.

(Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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