Former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka is returning to competitive tennis earlier than expected. Azarenka is planning on competing at Wimbledon in July, the third Grand Slam of the year, just seven months after giving birth to son Leo. The player from Belarus took to Twitter to announce her decision. "My training has been progressing well and I feel ready to start competing... plus Leo kinda said he wants to see London and Wimbledon," the 27-year-old wrote on Twitter on Monday. "I will be finalising my schedule before Wimbledon in the coming days — I plan to play one of the grasscourt events prior to Wimbledon! I will keep you updated!"
Wimbledon starts on July 3 with grasscourt warm-up tournaments beforehand at Mallorca, Spain; 's-Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands and Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne in England.
Azarenka is a two-time Australian Open champion. She had previously said she intended to return to competitive tennis at Stanford end of July.
Azarenka launched her 2016 season with back-to-back titles at Indian Wells and Miami. However, she missed the rest of year after announcing she was expecting and would give birth in December. Due to the long absence, Azarenka's ranking has dropped but she is eligible for a protected ranking that covers long-term injury and maternity leave - as long as a player returns within a year of giving birth.
In March she said she had resumed training and had brought on Michael Joyce, longtime coach to Maria Sharapova, as her new coach.
(With AFP inputs)