Aryna's father, Sergey Sabalenka, was a former ice hockey player who sadly passed away in 2019 at the age of 43. Sabalenka has documented the struggles of this affliction and how it affected her in the ensuing season, in which she stated that it was tough to practice mentally.
But she was fuelled by her father's wishes. One of those was that she would become World No. 1, which Sabalenka duly accomplished last September at the end of the US Open. She ended Iga Swiatek's 75-week reign as the WTA's top-ranked player.
And the second wish was that she would win two Grand Slams before age 26. In 2022, Sabalenka relayed this dream to the tennis world during an episode of the tennis documentary Break Point, believing she was running out of time to become a Grand Slam champion and that it put extra pressure on her.
But while the timing was slightly not quite exact, Sabalenka has won those two Grand Slams at the age of 25 after becoming the first woman to win back-to-back Australian Open titles since 2013, emulating her compatriot Victoria Azarenka.
Sabalenka completed her title defense by beating first-time Grand Slam finalist Qinwen Zheng 6-3, 6-2 in Saturday's final. It took her a little over an hour to record the emphatic scoreline in a match she never looked for a second she would lose.
The 25-year-old put a capstone to a perfect fortnight in which Sabalenka served revenge over Coco Gauff in the semifinal and did not lose a single set in her inexorable march to the title. She is just the fifth woman since 2000 to win the Australian Open singles title without dropping a set.