BRISBANE—Former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka says 2014 was a very difficult year for her and perhaps she should have skipped the tennis season altogether. The 25-year-old was injured most of the year and stopping dating Stefan Gordy, better known as RedFoo.
Currently ranked No. 42, Azarenka lost her first match of 2015 to Karolina Pliskova in more than three hours at Brisbane.
"For me, in my mind, I skipped the whole season," Azarenka told TENNIS.com. "I was never healthy, I was never prepared. I was never training full-time the way I wanted to train. I wasn't in the right time mentally there, I wasn't there as I look back, 100 percent. So for me to look at it and say, 'Hey, I was there like I am right now?' No. But I am prepared to be ready again."
Azarenka said that while she was unhappy in 2014, she wasn't going to give up playing tennis.
"I didn't think that," she said. "I really didn't think that, because in a way it was kind of my escape. Tennis court has always been a place. It's something that's so familiar and so secure for me, that if I want to escape anything there is in the world I will do it if I'm gonna play tennis because that really takes my mind away. So I didn't feel like that, but it was difficult to play and enjoy when you are always in pain, so that moment is not satisfying."
Azarenka has won two Grand Slam titles, at the 2012 and 2013 Australian Opens, and she also ended 2012 as the No. 1-ranked player. In 2014, she lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in the Australian Open quarterfinals, then lost four of her next five matches, stretching between March and July, She entered just three tournaments from August on, but did reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.
She admits that she was depressed, but has learned from it, and now feels like she is ready for a new start.
"I don’t want to sound like a mental person, but, yeah, I was," she said. "It's just when you are in those moments it's difficult to realize that, because you think you're fine and you're trying to kind of command your mind that you're OK, but it's really just going through that and experiencing that and really admitting it to yourself.
"I think the first time I admitted that I wasn't OK it made me feel a little bit better, and being an athlete I think it's not a weakness to admit that, because we’re all human, and we all go through difficult situations and it's OK to be that way. The important thing, and what's exciting is how you come out of it. That's what shows a strong personality, a strong character, because it's a challenge of life; it's more."