23-year-old Victoria Azarenka will miss her chance to face off against Serena Williams in the Brisbane International semi-final due to a foot infection caused by a bad pedicure.
The Belarussian tennis star made the announcement just half an hour before the scheduled start of the match on January 4. Photos of the announcement showed Azarenka in tears as she revealed that she had been suffering through the problem for over a week, and that the infection had progressed so far that a doctor had to remove part of the nail on her right big toe.
''It just got infected from a bad pedicure experience. I had somebody who gave me infection,'' Azarenka told reporters on Friday. ''Actually the doctor said it happens a lot. Never happened to me, so it's something that I am definitely going to prevent for the next time.''
Azarenka said that she tried everything possible to clear up the infection before her scheduled bout with Williams, and that the decision to withdraw from the match was difficult but it would allow her to heal before defending her Australian Open title later this month.
''I tried everything. We tried medication with taping, and I was playing through the pain for quite a while,'' Azarenka said. ''It's just something that I had to do to make sure that I can be fully recovered and ready for Australian Open. It's that sort kind of compromise I had to take.”
Azarenka assured reporters that the worst of the infection was over, and that she is heading to Melbourne to rest and prepare for the season's first major.
Williams supported Azarenka’s decision, admitting that a nail infection can be a troublesome and painful injury.
''I had that toe problem just a couple weeks ago and it's painful.” Williams said. “Doesn't sound painful, but it is. You can't walk with that.''