Victoria Azarenka will not play the Stuttgart Open due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the reason is not so straightforward. In a post on Twitter, Azarenka stated that the tournament coincides with her first coronavirus vaccination. “I will unfortunately not be able to compete in Stuttgart next week as I will be receiving my first dosis (sic) of the vaccine at the same time,” Azarenka said.
The ATP, WTA tours have made it clear that players need not get vaccinated in order to participate. However, they have encouraged players that they must get vaccinated. Azarenka is the second prominent player to pull out of the WTA 500 event in Stuttgart. Iga Swiatek, the 19-year-old from Poland who won the 2020 French Open, will also pull out of the event.
“Unfortunately, I won’t play in Stuttgart this year. It wasn’t an easy decision. But after a lot of discussion, we decided that I need more time. We need to prepare properly for tournaments in Madrid, Rome and Paris,” Swiatek said.
Swiatek was the champion at the 2020 French Open. With her French Open title, she also became the youngest singles champion at the tournament since Rafael Nadal in 2005. She is the youngest women’s singles champion since Monica Seles in 1992.
Azarenka is a former world No. 1 in singles, having claimed the top ranking for the first time on 30 January 2012. She was the year-end No. 1 in 2012 and has held the top ranking for a combined total of 51 weeks. Azarenka has won 21 WTA singles titles, including two Grand Slam singles titles at the 2012 and 2013 Australian Open. She became the first Belarusian player, male or female, to win a Grand Slam tournament singles title.