Victoria Azarenka thanked Serena Williams for providing her with motivation to succeed after overcoming the world number one in the BNP Paribas Open final.
Victoria Azarenka thanked Serena Williams for providing her with motivation to succeed after overcoming the world number one in the BNP Paribas Open final on Sunday.
Azarenka ended a wait of almost three years for a first title??since the Australian Open in 2013 by winning the Brisbane International in January, and built on that success by beating??Williams 6-4 6-4 at Indian Wells.
The Belarusian ??? who returns to the top 10 of the world rankings following her triumph ??? admitted it was the previous success of her opponent that encouraged her to push for a return to the top of her game.
Williams only returned to the tournament in 2015 after boycotting the event since 2002 due to alleged racist abuse one year prior.
Speaking on court at the trophy presentation, Azarenka said: "I know how emotional it was for you to be back here and you truly inspired so many people out there to see the type of commitment you have to the game and it's truly inspiring.
"You're an amazing competitor. You changed our game and if it wasn't for you ??? how hard you work and seeing you play so well ??? I wouldn't be as motivated to come back and work so hard, so I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the sport.
"I know you guys [the fans] were supporting Serena and I would too if I was in the stands, but thank you so much.
"Thank you to my team for believing in me, for never doubting my abilities and pushing me hard to improve, to rise, to grow. I appreciate you so much."