After Serena Williams another Australian Open champion will not be competing at the first Grand Slam of the year with Victoria Azarenka pulling out of the tournament due to personal reasons. Her ongoing custody battle for her son Leo will keep the Belarussian out of the tournament that begins on January 15 as she cannot leave the United States until the decision made is into the case. She was handed a wildcard for the Australian Open amid her personal circumstances.
After giving birth to Leo in December 2016, she returned to the WTA for two tournaments in 2017, reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon but since then she’s been out of competitive action due to the family matter.
“It is unfortunate that [Azarenka] is unable to travel to Australia this year,” said Australian Open tournament director Craig in a statement on Monday. “The Australian Open is her favourite tournament and she’s looking forward to returning to Melbourne next year.”
The two-time Australian Open champion had accepted a wildcard to last week’s ASB Classic in Auckland, but was forced to withdraw.
Her wildcard will now go to Croatian-Australian 24-year-old Ajla Tomljanovic. World No.108 Tomljanovic reached the second round of Brisbane International last week, falling to Johanna Konta in three sets, and has twice reached the second round in Melbourne. Her career best is a World No 47 in 2015 and she looks to return to that level following shoulder surgery last year.