Azarenka fitter than ever ahead of Wimbledon comeback


Victoria Azarenka says she is fitter than ever as she plots her grand-slam return at Wimbledon this week.

Two-time major winner Azarenka has played just one tournament in the past 13 months after taking a break to give birth to her first child - making the second round of the Mallorca Open in June.

SW19 will play host to Azarenka's first steps back on the biggest stage, however, the former world number one will meet CiCi Bellis in round one.

With Serena Williams having won the Australian Open this year while carrying her first child, Azarenka is sure that her best years remain ahead of her, despite the year out.

"The physical aspect, I think I improved the most in this break, let's say that way," the Belarusian said. "I definitely feel fitter than I ever was before. I want to continue to go into that direction.

"In tennis, and in tournaments, you can feel great on the practice court, but to be able to transfer that into the match I think is a real art. Sometimes it takes time. Sometimes it clicks right away. You never know.

"I think I'm on the right path to bringing all those components together and try to play better than I ever was before."

Azarenka is not the only woman on the comeback trail in London this year, with two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova continuing her return after suffering career-threatening injuries at the hands of intruders at her home.

While quick to stress that their routes back to tennis have been polar opposites, Azarenka can regardless draw strength from the Czech's inspirational return to action - Kvitova having already tasted silverware at the Aegon Classic this grass-court season.

"I can't understand what she went through on the emotional level," Azarenka said. 

"I think she's such a warrior to be able to just act normal, feel normal in public. I think it's such a scary thing that happened to her.

"The way she recovered from it, it's really inspiring. Just going out and playing in the French Open, a lot of people thought she may never be able to play again. So for her to come back and then win Birmingham, see her smile on the court, competing, I think just personally as a player, not as a competitor, I'm very happy for her."