Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka has been awarded a wildcard to the first Grand Slam of 2018.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed in a media release that the tournament is eager to provide support for its former champion.
The Belarusian returned to the WTA for two tournaments in 2017 after giving birth to son Leo last December, reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon, but has been kept out of competitive action since then due to an ongoing family matter.
“Vika’s current situation is obviously very difficult for her and we have reached out to offer any support we can," Tiley said.
“As a two-time Australian Open champion we’ve awarded her a wildcard, and look forward to seeing her back on court in Melbourne in January.”
Azarenka claimed back-to-back crowns in Melbourne in 2012 and 2013 en route to rising to the World No.1 ranking. She spent 51 weeks at the top spot, and is currently ranked World No.210.
Organizers of the ASB Classic in Auckland, set for the week of Jan. 2, also awarded Azarenka a wildcard last month.
Read more: Azarenka to begin 2018 season in Auckland
“I’m so excited about coming back to Melbourne for the Australian Open. It’s my favourite tournament,” Azarenka said.
“It’s been a tough year and being able to come back to the AO will be a really positive way to start 2018. I’d like to thank Craig and his team for their understanding and support and can’t wait to see all my Aussie fans again.”
Azarenka reached the fourth round or better in Melbourne in every event from 2009 to 2016, reaching the quarterfinals in her last appearance.