Victoria Azarenka has been handed a wildcard entry into next month’s Australian Open.
The former world number one and two-time winner at Melbourne Park has not played competitively since Wimbledon earlier this year due to a custody dispute regarding her young son.
The dispute meant the 28-year-old was forced to miss this year’s US Open, as well as Belarus’ Fed Cup final defeat to the United States, while she has also dropped outside the top 200 of the world rankings.
Despite her struggles, Azarenka has now been handed a wildcard entry into the upcoming Australian Open, with tournament director Craig Tiley confirming their desire to support the 2012 and 2013 champion.
“Vika’s current situation is obviously very difficult for her. We have reached out to offer any support we can,” Tiley said.
Azarenka, who will begin her preparations for the Australian Open by competing in the Auckland Open at the turn of the year, admits she is excited by the prospect of playing at the first Grand Slam event of 2018.
“I’m so excited about coming back to Melbourne for the Australian Open, it’s my favourite tournament,” Azarenka said.
“I’ve won there twice and always feel so comfortable on court and the city is great.”
The Belarusian has not won a WTA event of any kind since April 2016, but she is priced at 15.00 to take full advantage of her wildcard entry and claim a third Melbourne title next month.