Victoria Azarenka speaks out after 'disrespectful' act sparks anger

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·Sports Reporter
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Victoria Azarenka leaves the court after shaking hands with the umpire at the Miami Open.
Victoria Azarenka left fans bemused after abruptly walking out of her third round Miami Open match against Linda Fruhvirtova. Pictures: Twitter

Former tennis world No.1 Victoria Azarenka has publicly apologised to an opponent after abrubtly leaving the court during the third round of the Miami Open.

Azarenka, who his competing under a neutral flag due to sanctions imposed on her native Belarus thanks to their government's support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, decided to leave after falling behind 6-2 3-0 to 16-year-old Czech star Linda Fruhvirtova.

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The 32-year-old was determined to leave the court, briefly shaking hands with both Fruhvirtova and the chair umpire before making her way off the court, despite the umpire's protests.

It comes after Azarenka had a somewhat similar exit from Indian Wells earlier in March, breaking down mid-match in alarming scenes which prompted her opponent to check up on her.

Fruhvirtova was left somewhat confused after what she thought was just a change of ends, with Azarenka's walk-out not ncessarily well-recieved by fans.

“Vika we need to wait,” the umpire could be heard saying as Azarenka made her way to the rooms.

Fans accused Azarenka of being 'disrespectful' towards her teenage opponent, with former world No.5 Daniela Hantuchova calling for the ATP to investigate.

“The most disrespectful thing about this is how she walked off the court without really giving a reason," she said.

“I think the WTA will really have to look into this.

“This one for me is really bizarre and really disrespectful to the crowd, to the umpire and most importantly to Linda (Fruhvirtova).

“I think Vika (Azarenka) just knows if she kept going this way she would be off the court anyway very shortly.

“But just the way she’s done it, it’s not nice behaviour.”

After the match, Fruhvirtova told reporters she was unsure what had happened.

“I don’t know what happened at the end,” Fruhvirtova told AFP.

“She was struggling with some injuries. I don’t know but it was an honour to share the court with her.

“You never want to end the match this way but it happens. We shook hands and then she walked off.”

Victoria Azarenka apologises after abrupt Miami Open walk-out

While Azarenka was heavily criticised for the strange move, she posted an apology to her social media a short time afterwards.

Throughout the match, Azarenka was heard yelling out to her coach, questioning 'why am I here?'.

The Belarussian star said she shouldn't have played at all.

"I shouldn't have gone on the court today," she wrote.

"The last few weeks have been extremely stressful in my personal life. Last match took a lot out of me, but I wanted to play in front of a great audience as they helped me through my first match.

"I wanted to go out there and try, but it was a mistake."

Former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka says she plans to take some time away from tennis after some tough weeks on tour. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka says she plans to take some time away from tennis after some tough weeks on tour. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Azarenka did not shed any light on what specifically prompted her to decide to end the match prematurely.

In her statement, she said she would be taking a break from competition.

"I'm sorry to the fans for what happened as you were great to cheer for me. It was the only reason I decided to step on the court," Azarenka said.

"I always look forward to the pressure and challenge of competition but today it was too much. I have to and will learn from this.

"I would like to congratulate my opponent and wish her the best of luck in this tournament and beginning of her profssional career."

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