The current Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka Head to Head stands at 14-3, with Serena winning their last encounter in the US Open 2013 final.
Though the head to head is still decidedly in the favor of the current World No. 1, the friendly rivalry between Serena Williams (Player Bio) and Victoria Azarenka (Player Bio) has gotten a lot closer of late. It may have taken Azarenka four years to earn only her second career win against Williams, but it’s clear that this matchup is definitely becoming more intriguing each time that they meet.
Their initial encounter was back in the round of 32 at the 2008 Australian Open. Azarenka was seeded for the first time ever at a Major but it did little to help her cause then. She lost 6-3, 6-4 to Williams who was defending champion at the time.
Williams was the established superstar but Azarenka, at age 19, was already being touted as a player to watch after her successful junior days. Still it was unclear if Azarenka would achieve her full potential despite jumping into the WTA top 20 at such a young age.
Azarenka scored her first ever win against Williams when it really mattered in the finals of Miami a year later. Williams, not 100% for the match as she was dealing with a thigh injury, gave full credit to Azarenka who overcame some last minute nerves to close out the 6-3, 6-1 win and claim the biggest title of her career.
That success boosted Azarenka into the top eight and earned her the tag of “potential No. 1″. But Azarenka struggled with injuries and mental collapses in subsequent matches. One of the them was against Williams in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Australian Open. Williams, again dealing with a thigh injury, appeared on the verge of losing to the Belarusian who was up a set and 4-0 in the second set.
But Williams’s resolve compounded by Azarenka’s inability to close out the upset allowed Williams to squeeze out the 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 win.
Azarenka showed more fight in subsequent losses to Williams. Most notably in the third round of the 2011 U.S. Open and in the semis of Wimbledon in 2012. But there was always a lingering sense that Williams would never allow Azarenka to feel like she ever had a real chance against the American.
That all changed quite suddenly in the U.S. Open finals later that summer. What looked like yet another routine straight sets win for Williams turned into a hard fought three set battle with Azarenka who looked on the verge of winning the title. But it was Williams who reeled off a series of points when down late in the final set to claim her 15th Major title.
Williams may have secured her return back to No.1 earlier this season in Doha, but that didn’t mean she had a lock on the trophy when she faced Azarenka in the finals. This time it was Williams who looked unnerved by Azarenka’s confidence and shotmaking. Finally after a four year wait, it was Azarenka who raised up her arms in triumph as she won 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-3 to earn only her second career win over Williams.
With both women in the hunt not only for the top ranking but for each of the Grand Slams, what’s most fascinating now is how Azarenka and Williams appear to have formed a friendship. How close they are is hard to say, but each has admitted publicly that they are friendly with Williams recently saying that she Azarenka is one of the few players on tour that she hangs out with off the court. Both are rumored to be working on a record together, but it’s unclear if the project will ever come to full fruition.
In the competitive world of women’s tennis, this friendship might feel odd or surprising to some fans but it probably shouldn’t. Despite their age difference and the larger amount of success that Williams has had so far, both players likely see something similar in the other with regards to their humble personal beginnings and their drive for success. But if Azarenka continues her recent trend of not only playing Williams close but also beating her as she did in Doha, then we might see a cooling off in their congeniality to one another.
Until then, expect to see more photos of Azarenka and Williams laughing together off court as they continue to clash on court for the sport’s biggest prizes. But it’s clear that despite Williams holding a 14-3 head to head lead, this rivalry still has a few plot twists to go before the ink finally dries in the record books.