The Belarusian is finally back on red dirt in Europe, though has endured a slow start. (AP)

Perhaps we truly don't know what we've got 'til it's gone. Victoria Azarenka has been vocal about loving her return to the tennis courts, cuisine and culture of Europe, based on eased-up travel restrictions while she engages in a custody battle with her son's father, her ex-boyfriend Billy McKeague.

"I have [been practicing on clay], but on a really [bad] clay," she said after defeating Aleksandra Krunic in Madrid for her first clay win since 2016. "On green clay in the States, it’s horrible, which made me appreciate the red clay much more. I came here, all the bad bounces looked amazing, so maybe it’s a good thing."

That certainly qualifies as grand news for Azarenka, whose French Open results are actually the least good of her collection of appearances at the four majors. To date, she has one Roland Garros semifinal (2013), two Wimbledon semifinals (2011-12) and two US Open final showings (2012-13) to go with her pair of Australian Open titles (also 2012-13).

"I was so happy to be on that plane, you have no idea," she added, as reported by Sport360. "You have no idea how happy I was to just have fresh European air, European food, everything. I’m so happy to be out of the United States for now." 

Azarenka won an opening round of legal proceedings in the custody battle for Leo, with a Los Angeles County judge ruling that her case against McKeague should be argued in her home country, Belarus, and not in California. Since giving birth to Leo in December 2016, Azarenka has played professional tournaments sparsely, often bound to the Golden State to be with her young son. She and McKeague split after Wimbledon last year. 

Azarenka opened her campaign in Rome against Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka, who has faced Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova in first-rounders in recent weeks, notably defeating both. Besting Azarenka in dismissive fashion, 6-0, 6-3, served as something of a springtime hat trick for the 20-year-old phenom. 

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