Asked how different she feels as a player and a person from the January, Azarenka said Melbourne felt like a lifetime ago.
“I feel very different, honestly,” Azarenka said in Stuttgart. “It was quite a low moment for me, where I had to really reassess and see which direction am I going to go in my personal life, in my tennis as well. It was a defining moment, why I am the way I am today.
“I am more happy, more upbeat, more excited, more motivated. So, that was necessary, obviously.
“But how do I feel different? I think I’ve learned so much about me in these two months, that I’ve never done that in 29 years. And I’m excited about the process of discovering and learning.
“I finally, I think for the first time in my life, understood how to love and enjoy the journey. You know, everybody says enjoy the journey, it’s what it’s all about. And you are like, what the hell are you talking about?
“It’s painful, it’s miserable, how do you enjoy that? And apparently, you can. You just got to find a way and stay strong, stay focused, be vulnerable, be open and it works out. It’s exciting, but it took me a while.”
“You know, being a public person, being an athlete you always get judged. So, at a certain moment, even though we don’t read comments – we say we don’t but we all do – it still leaves a mark, and over years it can really kind of haunt you, bring you down as well.
“So, if you can differentiate the public opinion and stay true to who you are I think it can be challenging. And hopefully, some young players can also learn a little bit about that and start their personal journey a little earlier.”