Mum Azarenka downs Watson to reach last 16

Competing in her first Grand Slam since taking a year off to have her first child in December, Azarenka is bidding to become the first mother to win Wimbledon in 37 years.

Victoria Azarenka persevered and triumphed over Heather Watson.   -  Getty Images

Former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka fought back to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon with a gritty 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over British wildcard Heather Watson on Friday.

Competing in her first Grand Slam since taking a year off to have her first child in December, Azarenka is bidding to become the first mother to win Wimbledon in 37 years.

In just her second tournament following son Leo's birth, the 27-year-old Belarusian had to dig deep to beat battling Watson on Centre Court.

Watson, the world number 102, made a fast start as she looked to make the fourth round for the first time. But after a sloppy first set from Azarenka, the two-time Australian Open champion stepped on the gas to keep alive her attempt to emulate Evonne Goolagong, who was the last Wimbledon mum to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish in 1980.

Only Goolagong, Margaret Court and Kim Clijsters have won a Grand Slam singles title after having a child. Azarenka, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2011 and 2012, plays World No. 2 Simona Halep or China's Peng Shuai for a place in the quarterfinals.