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Victoria Azarenka may miss U.S. Open due to custody battle

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Olympic and Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka says her participation in the U.S. Open is in doubt because she might not be able to bring her son with her to New York as a result of her separation from the baby’s father.

Azarenka is “faced with a difficult situation which may not allow me to return to work right away,” according to a post on the former top-ranked player’s social media accounts Thursday. “No parent should have to decide between their child or their career.”

The 28-year-old from Belarus gave birth to Leo, her first child, in December, then returned to the tour in June.

Azarenka’s post said that shortly after Wimbledon — where Azarenka lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10 — she separated from her son’s father.

“As we work to resolve some of the legal processes, the way things stand now is that the only way I can play in the U.S. Open this year is if I leave Leo behind in California,” was posted on Azarenka’s social media, “which I’m not willing to do.”

The U.S. Open starts Aug. 28.

“I remain optimistic that in the coming days Leo’s father and I can put aside any differences and take steps in the right direction to more effectively work as a team and agree on an arrangement for all three of us to travel and for me to compete,” was posted, “but, more importantly, to ensure that Leo has a consistent presence from both of his parents.”

Azarenka was the runner-up in New York in 2012 and 2013, losing in the final each year to Serena Williams.

Those were also the years that Azarenka won her two Grand Slam singles titles in Australia.

Wimbledon was Azarenka’s first major tournament in more than a year. She currently is ranked 204th.

“Balancing child care and a career is not easy for any parent, but it is a challenge I am willing to face and embrace. I want to support men and women everywhere who know it is OK to be a working mother — or father. No one should ever have to decide between a child and their career, we are strong enough to do both,” was posted on Azarenka’s social media. “I am incredibly grateful for all of the support I have received from women and men around the world who recognize the importance of supporting working moms and our right to be with our children. I look forward to hopefully having positive developments soon so that this difficult situation can be resolved and I can get back to competing.”

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Wrong anthem at medal ceremony leads winner to leave

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Belarus triple jumper Violetta Skvartsova smirked and eventually left the podium as the wrong anthem was played during her medal ceremony at the European U20 Track and Field Championships on Friday.

Skvartsova heard the Bosnian and Herzegovina anthem instead. Video is here.

Skvartosova said it was insulting, according to the Belarus track and field federation, which reported that organizers offered to hold the medal ceremony again.

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Olympic 100m champion from 2004 retires

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Yuliya Nesterenko, the surprise 2004 Olympic 100m champion, is retiring, according to Belarus news agency Belta.

The news agency quoted the head coach of the Belarus national track and field team.

Nesterenko, a 37-year-old who hasn’t competed at the top international level since 2012, was not a medal favorite going into the 2004 Athens Games.

She ranked outside the world top 100 in the 100m in 2003 but upper her personal best from 11.29 seconds to 11.02 seconds two months before the Olympics.

In Athens, Nesterenko broke 11 seconds in all four rounds, clocking 10.93 in the final for gold. American Lauryn Williams and Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown took silver and bronze in 10.96 and 10.97, respectively.

Nesterenko was so unknown that Williams called her “Belarus girl” in an NBC interview after the race.

In the time of the American BALCO doping scandal, followers instantly became suspicious of Nesterenko. The runner stoked them by saying after winning gold, “I cannot really go into details about my training.”

Nesterenko would never break 11 seconds again. She finished eighth at the 2005 World Championships and was eliminated in the 2008 Olympic semifinals.

Nesterenko is the only non-American or Jamaican to win the Olympic women’s 100m title since the boycotted 1980 Moscow Games.

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