Three-time Miami Masters champion Victoria Azarenka has expressed confidence that the WTA’s softly-softly approach to pandemic tennis is paying off.
The former No. 1 who won the 2009, 2011 and 2016 editions of the event when it was played on the nearby tropical island of Key Biscayne, believes the Tour is making all the right decisions in bringing tennis despite the logistical and health challenges of COVID.
“Right now it’s still very challenging times. Some of the developments in this pandemic are moving forward, but we are still facing a lot of adversities, a lot of unknown scenarios.
“But moving forward. I feel like we’re using those opportunities to play and to perform and build up from here,” the Belarus 31-year-old said.
“For a long time (five months in 2020) there was no tennis. I feel financially in the world that there are struggles right now. I’m trying to be also a bit understanding of the situation,” she said at a tournament whose women’s field is strong while half of the men’s Top 10 are missing.
“I think sooner or later this is going to end and we’re going to move forward. We (women’s players) need to continue to build our platform, to build our sport, to have consistency with our performances for players and for the business.
“It’s really important to maintain that vision moving forward.”
Azarenka does not particularly agree with the concept of staging multiple back-to-back tournaments at the same venue to cut down on travel in these difficult times.
The WTA is trialling that concept next month in Charleston, while the ATP did it last autumn in Cologne and all of the Australian Open run-up events were played at the Grand Slam venue of Melbourne Park.
“Maybe during the pandemic it’s beneficial in one way, especially if we are not having crowds,” she said.
When we do start to have crowds, I would want our sport to remain global and not (stick to) one region.
“At this moment I think the most difficult part is that every part of the world has its (way of dealing with) the pandemic. That’s what makes it more difficult.
“Once we’re changing continents and seasons, we have to adapt to (new) places.”