Victoria Azarenka withdraws from Aussie Open amid custody dispute

Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka has withdrawn from the Australian Open, tournament officials announced Sunday.

Azarenka is involved in a custody dispute with her former partner over their son, Leo. She has said she is not allowed to leave California until the issue is resolved. She had earlier withdrawn from the US Open because of the dispute.

"It's unfortunate that [Azarenka] is unable to travel to Australia this year," Australian Open director Craig Tiley tweeted. "The Australian Open is her favourite tournament and she's looking forward to returning to Melbourne next year."

Azarenka, former world No. 1, won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013. She hasn't competed anywhere since Wimbledon, where she lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10. Azarenka played only six matches in 2017 and her year-ending ranking plummeted to No. 208.

Australian Open organizers last month granted her a wildcard entry, with Tiley saying at the time ``Vika's current situation is obviously very difficult for her and we have reached out to offer any support we can.''

Azarenka's wild card will go to Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic.

The Australian Open starts next Monday at Melbourne Park. Defending champion Serena Williams announced last week that she was withdrawing from the tournament because she is not quite ready after having a child in September.

Andy Murray has also withdrawn from the tournament.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.