November 8, 2017 / 1:54 AM / 2 years ago

Azarenka to miss Fed Cup final over custody battle

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Wimbledon - London, Britain - July 10, 2017 Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka during her fourth round match against Romania’s Simona Halep REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge/File Photo

(Reuters) - Victoria Azarenka will miss this week’s Fed Cup final in Minsk against the United States due to an ongoing custody battle with her baby son’s father, the former world number one said on Tuesday.

Azarenka said she was unwilling to leave her son behind in California, where she has a home and where her child was born and must stay until his future is decided.

“It is heart-breaking for me to not have a chance to play and help Belarus in the final but unfortunately, my current custody situation is keeping me in California,” the 28-year-old said in a statement posted on her Twitter account.

“Even though I will not be in Minsk for the final my heart is always with my country and my team and I will cheer for them from afar.”

The two-times grand slam winner returned to action in June after the birth of her son Leo last December and decided to skip the U.S. Open in September amid the custody battle.

Belarus, who will host the Nov. 11-12 decider, have never won a Fed Cup championship while the United States won the last of their record 17 titles in 2000.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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