Victoria Azarenka expressed agitation when asked about a massive Australian Open controversy involving Novak Djokovic’s father on Wednesday. Azarenka’s frustration stemmed from her belief that the Serbian tennis great is being dragged into a controversy that has nothing to do with him directly.
After Djokovic’s dominant quarter-final victory over Andrey Rublev on Wednesday night, his father, Srdjan, was seen posing for pictures with fans holding a Russian flag with president Vladimir Putin’s face on it, making pro-Russian chants and wearing t-shirts with the ‘Z’ symbol, which is notoriously used as an emblem of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
To add fuel to the fire, Srdjan reportedly uttered “Zivejli Russiyani” which has been translated to mean “Long live the Russians.”
Djokovic Sr. has been on the receiving end of a lot of flak on social media. As the issue picked up more steam on Thursday, Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka stated that involving Novak Djokovic in the controversy is far from ideal. Speaking after her semifinal loss to Elena Rybakina, Azarenka shared her thoughts on the same.
“I don’t know what it has to do with Novak at all, to be fair, so,” Azarenka said in her post-match press conference, when asked about the potential negative impact on Djokovic in light of the controversy involving his father.
The Belarusian tennis star revealed that she did not even know the full story of what happened until a security guard on the grounds of the Australian Open explained the situation to her on Thursday.
“I’ve spoken to actually a security guard today who was walking me to practice every day. I know him for years. I just asked him what was the accident [sic]. He explained to me,” the 33-year-old said.
She then expressed sheer dissent at being asked to comment on the situation involving Srdjan and other Russia-related controversies. Azarenka stressed that there is no sense in “dragging” players into such issues, particularly because they have nothing to do with them. The two-time Australian Open champion questioned the “goal” behind asking players to comment on such matters.
“I don’t know what you guys want us to do about it,” continued Azarenka. “Like talk about it? I don’t know what’s the goal here that it’s continuously brought up. These incidents that in my opinion have nothing to do with players, but somehow you keep dragging players into it.”
“So what’s the goal here? I think you should ask yourself that question, not me.”
Victoria Azarenka’s memorable Australian Open 2023 campaign comes to an end
On the tennis front, Victoria Azarenka’s first semifinal appearance at the Australian Open since winning her 2nd title in 2013 did not go as planned as she lost 6-7(4), 3-6 to reigning Wimbledon Elena Rybakina. The first set saw multiple shifts of momentum, with Rybakina going 5-3 up after initially being broken. Azarenka then leveled proceedings at 5-5 and had three break points to go 6-5 up, but Rybakina held on.
As the set went into a tiebreak, Rybakina took charge and Azarenka eventually gave in to the pressure. Rybakina then dominated the second set, holding on for a victory that sent her into Saturday’s women’s singles final.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Victoria Azarenka expressed that she prefers not to dwell a lot on her loss, but instead use it as motivation to do even better going forward.
“I don’t take it as a personal. It’s just a day that my game didn’t win. I think that helps my mindset to not dwell on things like that too much,” Victoria Azarenka said.
“On the other hand, it also motivates you. Okay, I want to go a step further and do better. Then take the lens, zoom out and see what I can do maybe better next time.”