ABOVE: VICTORIA AZARENKA. PHOTO COURTESY OF GETTY IMAGES.
Every remarkable comeback story needs an anthemic, powerful training sequence to go with it (Stallone running up the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s steps in Rocky set to the tune of “Gonna Fly Now” comes to mind) and Belarusian athlete Victoria Azarenka’s long-awaited return to tennis is no exception. Today, after winning her 18th title at Brisbane International over the weekend—her first since an injury kept her from competing after the 2013 season—she has a self-directed music video to do just that, which we are pleased to premiere below.
“I was running and this movie idea just came to my head and wouldn’t leave me alone,” Azarenka explains. “I felt very creative at the time and in that particular moment I wanted to express myself in ways other than just through my tennis…a lot of people know me as a tennis player, so it was a great way to show them another side of me.”
Shot in the rain at night, the sound of thunder signals the start of Azarenka’s solo training session. She sprints, swings a kettle bell, rides a motorcycle, and spray paints graffiti. In effect, she’s showcased as an all-around-badass who seems fully prepared to take on her competition at the Australian Open next week. The video’s soundtrack, inspired by A$AP ROCKY‘s fast-paced single “Wild for the Night,” sets the tone with a repetitive bass line.
As Serena Williams, Azarenka’s long-term, on-court rival says in the video’s voiceover pulled from a press conference, “of course” Azarenka would return to tennis despite an injury setting her back. Williams was right; while Azarenka is currently the number 16 seed in the world according to WTA’s women’s tennis rankings, she is ranked number one on their “Road to Singapore” list. “I had to battle the doubts and fears for a while but I committed to making sure that my strongest emotion was self-belief,” Azarenka continues. “Once I did that, I knew I would be ok.”
THE AUSTRALIAN OPENS BEGINS ON JANUARY 18.