‘I’m fulfilled, I’m happy’: Ash Barty retires at the top of her game
The women’s world No.1 quits tennis to ‘chase other dreams’
Ash Barty, the women’s world No.1 and reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, has shocked the world of tennis by announcing her retirement from the sport at the age of 25.
Speaking to friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua in a video posted on Instagram, the Australian revealed she was quitting tennis as she wanted to “chase other dreams”.
“Success for me is knowing I’ve given everything I can – I’m fulfilled, I’m happy, and I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself,” said the three-time grand slam champion. “I’ve said it to my team multiple times, it’s just that I don’t have that in me, I don’t have the physical drive, the emotional want – everything it takes to challenge yourself at the top level anymore. I am spent... physically I had nothing more to give. I’ve given absolutely everything I can to this beautiful sport of tennis.”
Barty’s second ‘retirement’
This marks Barty’s second “retirement” from the sport, Sky News said. She walked away from tennis as a teenager in late-2014, before “returning two years later and rising rapidly up the rankings”.
Barty’s rise to the top of women’s tennis was an “incredible story”, said the Daily Mail. After picking up a racquet at the age of four, her talent “was obvious” and she quickly competed against older children. However, after going overseas to play international competitions when she was 14, the schedule “became too much and the teenager found herself overwhelmed”.
In 2014 she “walked away from a promising tennis career”, Fox Sports said. Barty revealed she got “twisted” and quit tennis to be with the people who loved her. “I think I just needed to find myself a little bit,” she said. “I felt like I got twisted and maybe a little bit lost along the way in the first part of my career, just within myself mentally and what I wanted to do.”
Turning her attention to cricket, Barty earned a contract with the Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash League. After all the “media attention, pressure and depression” as a dazzling tennis prodigy, the stint playing cricket “set things right”, The Guardian said.
‘As a person, this is right’
After winning the Australian Open in January, Barty became the first Aussie to win the men’s or women’s singles title in 44 years. Now feeling “so happy” and “so ready”, Barty knows “in my heart, for me as a person, this is right”.
“People may not understand it and I’m ok with that because for me, Ash Barty the person has so many dreams that she wants to chase after that don’t necessarily involve travelling the world, being away from my family, being away from my home, which is where I’ve always wanted to be, it’s where I’ve grown up,” she said. “I’ll never ever ever stop loving tennis, it’ll always be a massive part of my life, but now I think it’s important that I get to enjoy the next phase of my life as Ash Barty the person, not Ash Barty the athlete.”
‘One of the great champions of the WTA’
Across all-levels of play, Barty had a 305-102 record in singles and a 200-64 record in doubles, earning total career prize money of $23,829,071, Greg Garber said on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) website. Her current reign as world No.1 is the “fourth-longest streak in the history of the WTA Tour”, behind Steffi Graf (186 weeks), Serena Williams (186) and Martina Navratilova (156). Her 121 total weeks are seventh on the all-time list.
Steve Simon, chief executive of the WTA, praised Barty for being the “ultimate competitor” who always led by example through the “unwavering professionalism and sportsmanship” she brought to every match. “With her accomplishments at the grand slams, WTA Finals, and reaching the pinnacle ranking of No.1 in the world, she has clearly established herself as one of the great champions of the WTA,” he said.