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Azarenka will return early to bid for Wimbledon glory


By Robert Jones

Former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka intends to return to tennis in time to compete in this year's Wimbledon following the birth of her first child. The two-time Grand Slam champion revealed news of her pregnancy last summer, and son Leo was born in December.

Azarenka, 27, initially planned to return at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford at the end of July, but she now hopes to perform at the All England Club, with the tournament due to start on July 3.

"I have some good news," she posted on her official Twitter account (@vika7). "My training has been progressing well and I feel ready to start competing... plus Leo kind of said he wants to see London and Wimbledon.

"I will be finalising my schedule before Wimbledon in the coming days - I plan to play one of the grass court events prior to Wimbledon.

"I will keep you updated. Thank you for all your support."

Belarusian Azarenka won back-to-back Australian Open titles in 2012 and 2013 and is also a two-time US Open finalist.

Her best performances at Wimbledon came in 2011 and 2012 when she reached the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki's preparations for next week's French Open suffered a huge blow after she retired injured from her opening-round match against American Shelby Rogers at Strasbourg International yesterday.

Top seed Wozniacki, who started the match with a 4-3 win-loss record on clay this year, failed to see off the first set as Rogers saved three set points to win 7-6.

The Dane was trailing 0-1 in the second set when she called for a medical timeout, and later served a pair of double faults before deciding to withdraw.

Elsewhere, No.5 seed Alison Riske withstood a spirited fightback from Elise Mertens to move into the second round of the Nürnberger Versicherungs Cup with a 6-4 4-6 6-3 victory.

Riske's aggression paid dividends in the first half of the match as she twice retrieved a break deficit in the first set, eventually edging it with another break in the final game.

Mertens took the second set but the Belgian's strategy of attacking the Riske backhand ultimately failed to pay off and it was the American who prevailed.

Belfast Telegraph


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