Azarenka set to miss US Open amid custody battle

Victoria Azarenka has announced she is likely to miss the US Open at Flushing Meadows because she is not able to travel with her son.

In a lengthy statement posted to social media on Thursday, the Belarusian explained that she could not fly to New York without leaving her eight-month old son Leo behind in California.

Azarenka is currently locked in a custody battle with her son's father, her ex-boyfriend Billy McKeague.

The pair split shortly after Wimbledon, and Azarenka has withdrawn from two events since, the Bank of the West Classic and this week's tournament in Cincinnati. 

The two-time Grand Slam champion said that due to her ongoing legal custody case, she was not able take Leo out of California until the case was resolved.

A Personal Note

A post shared by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on Aug 17, 2017 at 7:00am PDT

"My incredible fans and friends, who have supported me throughout my career deserve to know why I may not be able to compete at the U.S Open this year," Azarenka said.

"The day my son Leo was born, back in December of last year, was by far the happiest day of my life. I now have a brand new appreciation for how new mothers – and fathers – juggle the many different responsibilities for their families.

"However, like most working mothers, despite my unconditional love for my son, I am faced with a difficult situation which may not allow me to return to work right away. 

"In Belarus back in March, with my family in tow, I started working toward the goal of returning to the tennis tour and competing at a high level by July 31st.

"I was able to return early, playing in Mallorca mid-June followed by Wimbledon. Shortly after Wimbledon, Leo’s father and I separated and as we work to resolve some of the legal processes, the way things stand now is that the only way I can play in the US Open this year is if I leave Leo behind in California, which I’m not willing to do.

"Balancing child care and a career is not easy for any parent, but it is a challenge I am willing to face and embrace.

"I want to support men and women everywhere who know it is ok to be a working mother – or father. No one should ever have to decide between a child and their career, we are strong enough to do both.

"I am incredibly grateful for all of the support I have received from women and men around the world who recognize the importance of supporting working moms and our right to be with our children.

"I look forward to hopefully having positive developments soon so that this difficult situation can be resolved and I can get back to competing. No parent should have to decide between their child or their career.

"I remain optimistic that in the coming days Leo’s father and I can put aside any differences and take steps in the right direction to more effectively work as a team and agree on an arrangement for all three of us to travel and for me to compete but, more importantly to ensure that Leo has a consistent presence from both of his parents."

If Azarenka does miss the US Open, it will be yet another blow to the tournament, which is already missing Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka. 

Meanwhile, injury clouds also hang over Andy Murray and Roger Federer.