Former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka says she is prepared to miss the U.S. Open because she is not willing to leave her young son behind in California.
The Belarusian gave birth to her first child, Leo, last December and briefly returned to the WTA Tour earlier this year, playing in the Mallorca Open before reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon in July.
However, after separating from her son's father, Azarenka has revealed she is now "faced with a difficult situation which may not allow me to return to work right away."
Last week, TMZ reported that Azarenka had been told she could not take her child out of California after custody papers were filed in Los Angeles by his father.
In a statement posted on her official Twitter account under the heading "A Personal Note," Azarenka wrote: "Shortly after Wimbledon, Leo's father and I separated and 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 US Open this year is if I leave Leo behind in California, which I'm not willing to do.
"Balancing childcare 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.
"I am incredibly grateful for all of the support I have received from women and men around the world who recognise the importance of supporting working moms and our right to be with our children."
Azarenka, 28, has not given up hope of competing at Flushing Meadows, with the year's final Grand Slam set to start Aug. 28.
"I look forward to hopefully having positive developments soon so that this difficult situation can be resolved and I can get back to competing. No parent should have to decide between their child or their career," she added.
"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 but, more importantly to ensure that Leo has a consistent presence from both of his parents."
Azarenka reached the final of the US Open in 2012 and '13, losing to Serena Williams on each occasion.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 17, 2017