Azarenka has learned tough lessons

Published: Tuesday 7th July 2015 by The News Editor

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Victoria Azarenka believes the love-torn and injury-hit two years that forced her to “mature very quickly” can inspire a first grand slam victory over Serena Williams.

Foot trouble left former world number one Azarenka unseeded for January’s Australian Open, and that chronic complaint forced her to withdraw from Birmingham’s Aegon Classic last month.

While sinking to 24 in the world rankings, Azarenka has coupled battling long-term injury issues with a high-profile split in June 2014 from LMFAO pop star Redfoo, otherwise known as Stefan Gordy – the son of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy.

Azarenka’s Birmingham withdrawal jeopardised her Wimbledon fitness, but the 25-year-old has stormed to the SW19 quarter-finals, and feels ready to avenge her last-32 defeat to Williams at the French Open.

“This part of my injury and a lot of things that have happened to me in the last two years have taught me a lot of lessons and helped me to grow and mature very quickly,” said Azarenka, who beat Belinda Bencic 6-2 6-3 to meet Williams in Wimbledon’s last eight.

“As a person and as an athlete I feel different than I was before my injury.”

Azarenka claimed “nobody had it harder” than her during her two-year injury nightmare, before admitting she must “prove” herself by claiming an elusive first major tournament victory over Williams in Wimbledon’s last-eight.

“Close is not good enough,” said Azarenka when reminded she pushed Serena Williams in a 2012 semi-final at Wimbledon.

“I need to go out there and prove myself.

“To talk about it is pointless for me.”

Trampling all over Azarenka’s comeback trail on Tuesday will be the “ultimate champion” Serena Williams, so dubbed by big sister Venus, who tipped the 33-year-old to end up women’s tennis’ greatest of all time.

Serena blasted mercilessly past 35-year-old Venus as the Williams sisters met for the 26th time in their careers in Wimbledon’s last 16, and their first meeting in SW19 in six years.

Veteran Venus is running out of chances to add to her seven major titles, but backed sibling Serena to complete the calendar grand slam, with the Australian and French Open titles already in the bag.

“I don’t think she’s done, so we’ll see what more she does,” said Venus, after losing 6-4 6-3 to her younger sister.

“I don’t think she would call herself the greatest player of all time.

“But the level she’s playing at is unprecedented.

“When it’s a wrap it will be easier to make labels and not offend anybody.”

Russia’s 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova will take on 23-year-old American Coco Vandeweghe after disposing of Zarina Diyas 6-4 6-4.

Vandeweghe dumped out sixth seed Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6/1) 7-6 (7/4), while Agnieska Radwanska eased past Jelena Jankovic 7-5 6-4.

Former Wimbledon finalist Radwanska will face Madison Keys, while Timea Bacsinszky goes up against Garbine Muguruza.

Published: Tuesday 7th July 2015 by The News Editor

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