Azarenka began her career on the ITF tour in 2003 and won two junior Grand Slams (Australian Open and U.S. Open). By the end of 2005, she was the Number 1-ranked junior player and had also reached a semifinal in a senior event. In 2006, she competed in a couple of Grand Slam events and was ranked inside the top 100 by the end of the year.
In 2007, Azarenka defeated Martina Hingis in the U.S. Open and won the mixed doubles title at the same event with compatriot Max Miryni. Though she did not win an event in 2008, her consistency was enough to ensure she was ranked inside the top 25. Her big breakthrough came in 2009 when she won the Brisbane International; it was her first WTA career singles title. Azarenka followed that up with another WTA success at the Cellular South Cup in Tennessee and also reached the quarterfinal at Wimbledon.
Rise to Prominence
By the end of 2009, Azarenka was ranked Number 7 in the world, but she now had to show she belonged among the world’s elite. She proved as much in 2010 by consistently reaching the latter stages of tournaments, but she had yet to make a real impression in the Grand Slams. This changed in 2011 when she reached the semifinals of Wimbledon and went on to win several WTA events, edging ever closer to the top of the rankings.
2012 was to be an incredible year for Azarenka as she finally won a Grand Slam title by claiming the Australian Open. She also began the year with a 26-match winning streak. Marion Bartoli finally ended the run in the Sony Ericsson Open, but by then Azarenka was ranked Number 1 in the world. The London Olympics was another triumph, as she won a bronze medal in singles and a gold medal in the mixed doubles alongside her reliable partner Max Miryni. At the end of an exhausting but memorable 2012, Azarenka was still the world’s Number 1 player and had reached the U.S. Open final.
Azarenka successfully defended her Australian Open title in 2013 and enjoyed a 17-match winning run at the start of the season. However, injuries began to plague her, and she was forced to withdraw from several events in the middle of the season. Though she once again reached the U.S. Open final, Azarenka suffered another poor end to the season. While she had her almost typical excellent start to a season in 2014, a persistent foot injury forced her to withdraw from the French Open and other events.
Although Azarenka is now ranked Number 5, injuries are the main reason why she is not in the world’s top three. Once she manages to put these unfortunate circumstances behind her, it is likely she will return to the very top.
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