Wimbledon 2019: Victoria Azarenka vows to fight for maternity pay in tennis after ‘unpleasant’ experience

The Belarusian revealed she had issues with one of her sponsors after announcing her pregnancy in 2016

Wimbledon Championships in numbers

Victoria Azarenka has vowed to fight for maternity pay for tennis stars after revealing she left a sponsor because of “a situation that wasn’t pleasant” after announcing she was pregnant.

The 29-year-old Belarusian, a multiple grand slam winner, returned to the tour in the summer 2017 after giving birth to her son Leo, but is determined to fight for players who leave temporarily to give birth.

Azarenka, who faces Alize Cornet in the first round of the Wimbledon singles on Monday, told the Telegraph: “I want to keep pushing the needle forward, and right now I think paid maternity leave is really important.

“For tennis players, with our physicality the way we’re making money, there is a need to take the break for pregnancy. It is important – you need to feel secure for yourself to be able to have a family.

“Paid maternity leave is one of the biggest changes I would like to see because the WTA is the biggest women’s sport and has the opportunity to be a pioneer in that field. I hope we’re going to take that stance.”

Azarenka also revealed her pregnancy had created a difficult situation with an unnamed sponsor, something which Great Britain athlete Jo Pavey has also spoken out about.

When asked if any of her sponsors had issues surrounding her pregnancy, Azarenka added: “I faced a situation that wasn’t pleasant.

“We left them [as a result of the pregnancy]. It did not come out publicly, but we’ll see. It’s in the past – I don’t feel like bringing that up is going to change that.”

PA

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