Victoria Azarenka (born July 31, 1989) is a tennis player from Minsk, Belarus, who became junior world champion in 2005. She won the 2007 U.S. Open mixed doubles title with her partner Max Mirnyi, and also finished runner-up at the 2007 Australian Open with him. Currently she lives in Scottsdale, Arizona and trains in Marbella, Spain. On May 12, 2008 she reached a career high of No. 19 in singles.
In 2005, Azarenka won the Australian Open and U.S. Open as a junior and was named the ITF Junior Girls World Champion for that year, the first player from Belarus to do so. That year as well Azarenka won her first ITF title in Petange, Luxembourg. In Guangzhou, China, she reached her first pro-level semifinal, winning three qualifying rounds and defeating Martina Suchá and Shuai Peng in the main draw before losing to eventual champion Yan Zi.
In 2006, at the event in Memphis, Azarenka defeated her first top 20 player, Nicole Vaidisova, and two months later defeated her second top 30 player in Jelena Jankovic at Miami. On clay, Azarenka pushed 2004 French Open champion Anastasia Myskina to 7–6 in the third in Rome and took clay-court specialist Anabel Medina Garrigues to 9–7 in the third set in the first round at Roland Garros. At the 2006 US Open, she had her first win over Myskina in the first round and lost to Anna Chakvetadze in the third round, her best result in a grand slam event to that date. In her next tournament, Azarenka reached her second pro-level semifinal in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, losing to Tiantian Sun. She finished the year reaching the final of an ITF event in Pittsburgh, losing to Aleksandra Wozniack.
Ranked #96 at the start of 2007, Azarenka reached her second straight slam third round at the Australian Open, losing to Jankovi? in straight sets. She made consecutive third rounds at Indian Wells and Miami as well, losing to Vera Zvonareva and Vaidisova, respectively. In Estoril, Azarenka reached her first final on the tour, defeating Virginie Razzano, Francesca Schiavone, Gisela Dulko, and top seed Lucie Šafá?ová on the way. She lost to Greta Arn 2–6, 6–1, 7–6(3). Following Estoril, she made her fourth overall semifinal in Prague, retiring to eventual champion Akiko Morigami.
On grass, Azarenka pushed Chakvetadze to three sets at s-'Hertogenbosch and lost in the third round to Vaidisova at Wimbledon. For her hardcourt swing, she lost in three-sets to Maria Kirilenko in Stanford, Daniela Hantuchová in San Diego, and Jankovi? in Los Angeles, where she reached her first Tier II quarterfinal. At the 2007 US Open, in singles, she defeated Martina Hingis 3–6, 6–1, 6–0 in the third round to reach her first slam fourth round, losing to 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. In mixed doubles, she and countryman Max Mirnyi won the title, defeating Meghann Shaughnessy and Leander Paes in the final 6–4, 7–6(6), coming back from 2–6 down in the tiebreak.
In the fall indoor season, Azarenka reached her second Tier II quarterfinal in Luxembourg after upsetting fourth seed Nadia Petrova 6–2, 6–1 in the second round. The victory over Petrova was her first top 10 victory of her career. She then lost to Vera Zvonareva. Her next event was the Tashkent Open, where she beat Elena Vesnina in a straight-set semifinal win to advance to her second WTA Tour final. However, she lost to Pauline Parmentier 7–5, 6–2. The WTA tour points from Tashkent boosted her ranking to a career high of 32.
In her next tournament, the Kremlin Cup, she advanced to the singles quarterfinals after beating Sybille Bammer ranked 21 and Maria Sharapova ranked fourth. Her victory over Sharapova was her second top 10 victory of her career. In that match she saved 6 set points in the first set. She was down love-40 and 3–5 and came back to force a first set tie break. During that tie break she saved set points at 5–6, 6–7, and 8–9 before prevailing 11-9. She then lost to the eventual winner of the tournament, Elena Dementieva, in the quarterfinals. At the same tournament, in doubles, she advanced to the finals with her partner Tatiana Poutchek also of Belarus, losing to the WTA number one ranked doubles team of Huber and Black in three sets. Her strong showing at this tournament elevated her WTA ranking to a career high of 27th in singles and 29th in doubles.
Victoria began her 2008 campaign at the 2008 Mondial Australian Women's Hardcourts tournament at the Royal Pines Resort in the Gold Coast, Australia. Unseeded, she beat Ai Sugiyami, lucky loser Yuliana Fedak and Dominika Cibulková to reach the semi-finals. She then beat fifth seed Shahar Pe'er of Israel, Victoria's sixth top 20 victory of her young career, for a spot in her third career WTA tour final. She lost to Li Na in the finals 6–4, 3–6, 4–6 but her points earned in this tournment moved her WTA singles ranking to number 25, an all time high for her.
Victoria entered the Australian Open Tennis Tournament seeded number 26 after pulling out of the Moorilla Hobart International with a leg injury. This was Victoria’s first appearance as a seeded player in grand slam singles competition. She showed no ill effects of her leg injury in her first round match dispatching Akgul Amanmuradova in straight sets. She then beat Sandra Kloesel also in straight sets to set up a third round encounter with seventh seed and defending Australian Open champion Serena Williams. Serena served magnificently and beat Victoria 6–3, 6–4, breaking Victoria’s serve only twice but proving to be almost impossible to defeat on her own serve.
In doubles, Victoria teamed up with Israeli tennis star Shahar Pe'er and with their combined rankings in doubles were given the twelve seed. They moved through the draw with precision defeating 6th seeds Sania Mirza and Alicia Molik and 13th seeds Janette Husarova and Flavia Pennetta without losing a set until the semi-finals where they came from behind to beat Jie Zheng and Zi Yan from China in a thrilling match, 0–6, 7–5, 7–6, saving multiple set points in the second set. In the finals they faced unseeded Kateryna and Alona Bondarenko who had played 38 previous tournaments as a doubles team. After jumping out to a 6–2 lead, Victoria and Shahar lost the match 1–6 and 4–6.