Five things you need to know about Victoria Azarenka’s boyfriend, Sergei Bubka Junior.
There has never been a better-connected world number 158. Sergei Bubka Junior is going out with the women’s world number one and Australian Open champion, and his father is Sergei Bubka Senior, the pole-vaulting great and arguably the finest athlete of all time (he won six consecutive World Championships, an Olympic gold medal and broke the world record 35 times). Bubka Junior, 25, lives in Monaco, as does his girlfriend. But he didn’t have such a successful time at Melbourne Park, where he lost in qualifying.
He wants to be “famous for being me”.“I sometimes find it a bit difficult when everyone is asking me whether I am going to be as great as my father. By now, I am pretty used to the attention I get because of who my father is, as I have had that from a young age,” Sergei Bubka Junior said. “But the attention is much more than other players get at my level, much more than what is ordinary. I wish that there is going to come a time when I am recognised for something I have achieved, when I’m Sergei Bubka the tennis player rather than Sergei Bubka, the son of the great athlete. That is my goal in tennis, to be famous for being me.”
There was never any chance of going into vaulting. “Even in tennis people expect a lot from me, but if I had gone into vaulting there would have been even more pressure.”
Bubka Junior appreciates the importance of a strong work ethic. “I have a good serve and I’m fast around the court, but one of the first things I learned from my father is how important it is to work hard. Whenever I am on the practice court, I put everything into my training.”
Azarenka has been inspired by talking to her boyfriend’s father. Azarenka spent Christmas in Dubai with the Bubkas. “He’s got a real passion for sport and a passion to share, and I think he had a real effect on Vika,” said Azarenka’s physical trainer, Jean-Pierre Bruyere.