Tennis star says strength has come from a close by unusual source.
Victoria Azarenka says that watching her boyfriend Redfoo, the singer, dancer and rapper, has helped her deal with the fame she has acquired over the last two years.
Azarenka, who has a developing rivalry with Serena Williams after conceding the world number one ranking to the American earlier this year, used to find it diffident to cope with the limelight of publicity.
But Redfoo has offered the Belarussian insights into how to deal with it. “It’s funny, because he’s a funny dude. I watched him on X Factor and stuff and we talked about it,” Azarenka said.
“It’s actually fun because I know him from one side and then I see him on TV from another side. It’s exciting.
“It shows you have always to be really just you. It doesn’t matter who you are. It’s the best way to be more personal with anyone – supporter or press or anyone – you have to be open and honest.
“Of course they may still not like you that much!”
Another difficulty for Azarenka is that she is trying to get the better of a rival pushing to be recognised as the greatest woman player of all time. Williams is seeded to meet Azarenka in the final of the WTA Championships, the women’s tour’s season-end event, next Sunday.
Williams has 17 Grand Slam titles and according to Billie Jean King, the founder of the WTA Tour “she should be, could be, the best that’s ever lived.”
Azarenka tries not to be daunted by that. “I think the rivalry has been growing,” she said. “It’s becoming more and more interesting.
“We have a lot of very good battles. That’s what it takes with Serena, to take you to the next level.
“Sometimes when you feel like you don’t want to go to the gym or fight hard on the tennis court, and there is someone behind you, or above you, it gives extra motivation.”
However the Belarussian need not consider how to deal with Williams at least until Saturday’s semi-finals because they are drawn into different round robin groups.
Williams is in a quartet with Li Na, the only Chinese singles player to have won a Grand Slam final, Sara Errani, the leading Italian, and Jelena Jankovic, the former world number one from Serbia.
Azarenka will be trying to qualify from a group containing Agnieszka Radwanska, the former Wimbledon finalist from Poland, Petra Kvitova, the former Wimbledon champion from the Czech republic, and Angelique Kerber, the leading German.