Victoria Azarenka, the former No. 1 women’s tennis player in the world, faces a highly unenviable choice between her infant son and her career. Azarenka posted a note Thursday explaining that due to a custody battle between her and her boyfriend, she may be unable to compete at the U.S. Open later this month.
Shortly after Wimbledon, Leo’s father and I separated and as we work to resolve some of the legal processes, the way things stand now is that the only way I can play in the US Open this year is if I leave Leo behind in California, which I’m not willing to do.
Balancing child care and a career is not easy for any parent, but it is a challenge I am willing to face and embrace. I want to support men and women everywhere who know it is ok to be a working mother – or father. No one should ever have to decide between a child and their career, we are strong enough to do both.
TMZ reports that Billy McKeague, the father of Azarenka’s son, filed for custody in California and that Leo cannot leave the state until the issue is resolved. Per TMZ, Azarenka offered to fly McKeague and Leo to New York, but that proposal was blocked by a judge. That means Azarenka must decide whether to skip the U.S. Open or leave the baby with McKeague, and she seems to be leaning toward the former option.
Azarenka wrote that she hopes the issue can be settled, and maybe this note is intended to force McKeague’s hand, but currently it looks like she might put her career on hold for the sake of her son.
I remain optimistic that in the coming days Leo’s father and I can put aside any differences and take steps in the right direction to more effectively work as a team and agree on an arrangement for all three of us to travel and for me to compete but, more importantly to ensure that Leo has a consistent presence from both of his parents.