In her own words, Victoria Azarenka details her journey to Roland Garros and her connection to the city and culture of Paris ahead of the 2016 French Open.
From the Players' Box is a series on SI.com which gives you a front row seat to all of the action in a professional tennis player's life—from training, to traveling and more—straight from a player's point of view. Each month, From the Players' Box with Victoria Azarenka will give the 26-year-old Belarusian a platform to discuss issues on Tour, practices, her life off of the court and more.
Over the course of my 10-year professional tennis career, I must have played in about 200 tournaments and visited hundreds of cities around the world. This week I find myself in Paris, the site of the second Grand Slam of the year, Roland Garros. Paris sits at the top of the list of my favorite cities and every time I come here, I get that special feeling. I can’t really describe it. It’s just that feeling of being in a place where every building is filled with history and every cobblestone tells a story. The architecture takes your breath away and you can feel this city’s soul on every street corner.
After being away from the sport for almost a full season, you try to work so hard to prove people wrong, to prove that you are still a champion. Sometimes focusing so much on proving others wrong makes you forget why you play tennis in the first place. The love for the sport is what brought me to Paris in the first place more than 16 years ago. And all these years later, my passion hasn’t changed. I am as excited for this Roland Garros journey as I was when I was nine-years-old and starting my first clay court match in France.