Victoria Azarenka (Belarusian: Вікторыя Фёдараўна Азаранка, Łacinka Viktoryja Fiodaraŭna Azaranka [vʲikˈtɔrɨja aˈzaranka], Russian: Викто́рия Фёдоровна Аза́ренко, Viktoriya Fyodorovna Azarenko; born 31 July 1989) is a Belarusian professional tennis player. She is a former world No. 1 and is currently world No. 20 as of 7 September 2015.
She has won two Australian Open singles titles (2012 and 2013), becoming the only Belarusian player, male or female, to win a Grand Slam singles title.
Her other achievements include winning the bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, two mixed doubles Grand Slam titles—the 2007 US Open with Max Mirnyi, the 2008 French Open with Bob Bryan—and the gold medal in the mixed doubles at the 2012 Summer Olympics with Max Mirnyi.
On July 31, 1989, Azarenka was born in Minsk, Byelorussian SSR, Soviet Union to Alla and Fedor Azarenka in a middle-class family. She has an elder brother Max.
Azarenka’s tennis idol is German legendary Steffi Graf. In an interview, Azarenka stated: “Graf’s Calendar Golden Slam in 1988 is my biggest motivation.”
At age 15, Azarenka moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, United States, from Minsk, Belarus, to train. In this she was aided by National Hockey League goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and his wife, who is a friend of Azarenka’s mother. In 2012 she moved to Monaco and in August 2013 she bought a new house in Los Angeles, California. Azarenka is fluent in Belarusian, Russian, and English and has some handling of French and Ukrainian. In 2011 she briefly considered a break from the sport of tennis to focus on education; however, after a conversation with her grandmother, she decided to continue playing. It is the inspiration from her grandmother that is regarded as the key for her continued developments in the sport.
Azarenka dated American musician Redfoo between late 2012 and early 2014. She has spoken openly about her experience of depression during her injury-induced absence from professional tennis in 2014
Endorsements and earnings
In August 2013, Azarenka was named the fourth highest paid female athlete in the world by Forbes magazine, with total earnings of $15.7 million between 2012–2013. Her prize money constituted $6.7 million while her growing endorsements equaled $9 million. Azarenka’s $7.9 million prize money haul in 2012 was a single year record for a female athlete in any sport. With over $24.4 million in prize money, Azarenka is fourth on the list of WTA prize money leaders and the youngest in the top ten. Endorsement partners include Nike, Wilson, American Express, Six Star Pro Nutrition, InstaForex and Citizen Watch. Red Bull entered into a deal with Azarenka in January 2013, making her the first tennis player sponsor for the beverage and sports investment giant.
Azarenka tends to play an aggressive baseline style that showcases her mobility. She is known for her strong two handed backhand, return game and taking the ball early. Her game is based on controlled aggression which she uses to hit relentless groundstrokes and to move her opponent around the court in order to hit low risk winners. Her aggressive game was praised particularly by American tennis player Sloane Stephens, who said that “she’s just a really tough competitor”. Azarenka’s playing style includes grunting.
Throughout her career, Victoria Azarenka has established rivalries with other players on the WTA Tour. Her rivalries with Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are among the most significant on the WTA Tour, as all three players have met each other at least fifteen times