Victoria Azarenka, the two-time Australian Open champion from Belarus, has not been involved in a tennis competition since she was eliminated at Indian Wells in March. At the time, Azarenka admitted that a left-foot foot injury had hampered her ability to play. Now she has announced that she will withdraw from the French Open as well, as she struggles to recover. The French Open will begin on Sunday in Paris.
Azarenka announced her decision to withdraw on Twitter earlier this week, telling fans, “"Unfortunately I will not be able to compete in Roland Garros this year. Working hard on my recovery & getting back on the court."
While Azarenka still enjoys her title as the world’s fifth-ranked women’s tennis player, she has already missed tournaments in Doha, Miami, Madrid and Rome due to her persistent foot problem.
Known as an extremely competitive player, Azarenka is clearly itching to return to the court yet, as a Houston podiatrist, I have to admire the restraint she is showing by not returning to the sport prematurely.
So often in professional sports, we see injured athletes attempt to play before they are completely healed. When that happens, these athletes often make their injuries worse, ultimately resulting in more time away from the game than they would have experienced had they allowed themselves to heal.
Foot and ankle injuries are tricky, especially in tennis, where sudden direction changes, stops and starts can leave even a completely healthy player vulnerable to strains and sprains.
If you, like Victoria Azarenka, have experienced a foot or ankle injury and want to know when you can start playing sports again, the only safe way to do so is to consult with your doctor and get his or her go ahead before returning to the court or field.