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Victoria Azarenka could miss US Open: Former World No. 1 reportedly locked in child custody battle with ex-boyfriend

Leye Aduloju in WTA 11 Aug 2017
  • Victoria Azarenka's participation at the US Open is in doubt because of a child custody battle with her ex-boyfriend
  • Azarenka has reportedly been ordered by a Los Angeles judge not to take her child, Leo out of California
  • Watch and bet on tennis at bet365 > live streaming > tennis
Victoria Azarenka. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Former world number one, Victoria Azarenka could miss the US Open because of a legal battle with her former boyfriend over the custody of their eight-month old son, Leo.

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Azarenka and her boyfriend, Billy McKeague were both at Wimbledon in July, as the two-time Grand Slam champion made her return to the tour seven months after Leo’s birth. All seemed well with the couple at the time, with Azarenka describing McKeague as loving dad, but they are thought to have broken up soon after Wimbledon.

“I have a nanny but she is not here at the moment, so obviously my boyfriend has been helping out”, Azarenka said during Wimbledon. He loves being a dad and spending time with Leo. It’s fun.”

It is understood that McKeague filed custody papers in Los Angeles, after which he was granted temporary custody of the child. The parents have since worked out a more balanced formula, but Azarenka has been ordered not to take Leo out of California while the trial is still on-going. 

With the case unlikely to be resolved before October (reports say there is a hearing set for mid-September), and Azarenka desperate to be with her baby, the Belarusian may be stuck in her Californian home for the next few months, ruling her out of the US Open. The 28-year-old is unwilling to leave Leo with McKeague because she doesn’t believe he is capable of taking care of the child.

Azarenka’s legal team argued the option of lodging McKeague and Leo in a hotel for the two-week duration of the US Open, explaining that the Belarusian would cover all the expenses, but that request was turned down by the Los Angeles Court. The court also rejected claims that Azarenka had a valid custody order from her home country, Belarus. The former Australian Open champion has reportedly enlisted the services of Israeli lawyer, Zeev Valner as she battles to keep her child.

Following Leo’s birth in December 2016, Azarenka made an earlier-than-anticipated return to the WTA Tour at the Mallorca Open in June. Playing her first match in over a year (she hadn’t played since Roland Garros 2016), she defeated Japan’s Risa Ozaki, but was well beaten by Ana Konjuh in the second round.

Azarenka continued her comeback with a fourth round run at Wimbledon, beating CiCi Bellis, Elena Vesnina and Heather Watson before falling to Simona Halep.

She was scheduled to play at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford last week, but withdrew citing a viral illness. Given a potentially long, drawn out legal procedure, Azarenka’s plans for the rest of the year are uncertain. She is due to compete at next week’s Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, but that, along with her involvement at the US Open, is now in doubt following the recent developments.

The US Open 2017 is live from New York from 28 August – 10 September.

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Victoria Azarenka could miss US Open: Former World No. 1 reportedly locked in child custody battle with ex-boyfriend

Victoria Azarenka's participation at the US Open is in doubt following revelations that she is involved in a legal battle with her ex-boyfriend over the custody of their child, Leo.

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