World No. 1 Ash Barty, 25, announces his retirement from tennis
BRISBANE, Australia — Ash Barty surprisingly retired from tennis aged 25 when ranked No. 1 and less than two months after winning the Australian Open for her third Grand Slam singles title.
“I’m so happy and I’m so ready. I just know that right now, in my heart, for me as a person, it’s true,” Barty said, his voice shaking at times, during a six minute video. posted on his Instagram account on Wednesday in Australia.
Saying it was time to “go after other dreams,” Barty said she no longer felt pressured to do what she knew was necessary to be the best she could be at tennis.
Barty announced her engagement to apprentice professional golfer Garry Kissick in November, ahead of the Australian Open. The couple had been dating since 2016.
“It’s the first time I’ve said it out loud and, yeah, it’s hard to say,” Barty said of her decision to retire, which she announced in an informal interview. with his former doubles partner, Casey Dellacqua. no longer have the physical motivation, the emotional desire and whatever it takes to challenge yourself at the highest level. I’m exhausted.”
It’s not Barty’s first time away from tennis: She was Wimbledon junior champion aged 15 in 2011, presaging a promising professional career, but left the circuit altogether for nearly two years in 2014 due to professional burnout, saying they are overwhelmed. by the pressure and displacement required.
She played professional cricket back home in Australia, then eventually picked up a racket and returned to tennis.
Barty went on to win major singles championships on three different surfaces – on clay at the 2019 French Open, on grass at Wimbledon last year and on the hard courts of Melbourne Park in January, becoming Australia’s first player in 44 years to triumph at the national Grand Slam tournament.
But she hasn’t played a tournament since being presented with her Australian Open trophy by seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley, her mentor and Indigenous and Australian tennis icon, after a victory final in two sets against Danielle Collins.
“I’m so supportive of Ash that she does what makes her happy,” Goolagong Cawley told The Associated Press on Wednesday. dreams.”
Barty has won 15 tour-level titles in singles and another 12 in doubles since turning professional in 2010. She has spent 121 weeks at No. 1 in the rankings, including the last 114 in a row.
His announcement was all the more stunning from an on-field perspective given his recent run of success: Barty had won 25 of his last 26 games and three of his last four events.
Only one other woman has left the sport while atop the WTA rankings: Justine Henin was No. 1 when she retired in May 2008, after spending 61 consecutive weeks at the top. Henin was also 25 when she retired, but returned two years after her announcement, reaching the final of the 2010 Australian Open before retiring for good in 2011.
In a statement released by the WTA, CEO Steve Simon called Barty the “ultimate competitor” and said she “always led by example through the unwavering professionalism and sportsmanship she brought to every match”.
“She will be missed,” Simon said.
During her 21 month sabbatical from tennis as a teenager, Barty played cricket with the Brisbane Heat of the Women’s Big Bash League. She returned to tennis in May 2016, playing a $50,000 ITF event in Eastbourne – winning three qualifying matches and three more in the main draw.
A year later, she was ranked No. 88; by the end of 2017, Barty was an established member of the top 20.
“I know I’ve done this before,” Barty laughed in the retirement video, “but in a very different feeling. I’m so grateful for everything tennis has given me. gave away all my dreams, and more, but I know the time has come for me to walk away and pursue other dreams and, yes, put the rackets down.’
A semi-final loss to Petra Kvitova in Doha, Qatar in February was the last game she played in 2020; Barty remained at home in Australia for the remainder of the season when the global pandemic emerged.
After six months on the road in 2021 and having won five titles, including at Wimbledon, Barty ended his season abruptly after a loss to Shelby Rogers at the US Open.
“Wimbledon last year changed a lot for me as a person and for me as an athlete,” Barty said. the only real dream I wanted in tennis, which really changed my perspective.”
She described what she called a “hunch” after Wimbledon about maybe being ready to move on, but she also described herself then as not being “quite fulfilled”. Her victory at the Australian Open filled another gap, and Barty said she was fully aware that “my happiness did not depend on the results”.
Barty’s last words, at least for now — she’s planning a press conference on Thursday — came at the end of the video.
“I will never, ever, ever stop loving tennis,” she said. “It will always be an important part of my life, but now I think it’s important that I can enjoy the next phase of my life as a person, not Ash Barty the athlete.
ESPN Stats & Information and Associated Press contributed to this report.