WASHINGTON, March 23, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)
Ashleigh Barty, the WTA’s World No. 1 player and reigning Australian Open champion, announced her retirement from pro tennis Wednesday.
Just 25, Barty shared her stunning decision to retire in an interview with Casey Dellacqua, an Australian tennis broadcaster, former player and Barty’s one-time doubles partner, on social media that was posted to the three-time Grand Slam champion’s Instagram page.
“Today is difficult and filled with emotion for me as I announce my retirement from tennis,” Barty wrote on Instagram. “I wasn’t sure how to share this news with you so I asked my good friend, Casey Dellacqua, to help me. I am so thankful for everything this sport has given me and leave feeling proud and fulfilled. Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way, I’ll always be grateful for the lifelong memories that we created together.”
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Barty was asked why she made the decision to retire now. The affable Queenslander replied that she was “spent” and wanted to “chase other dreams.”
“I’m fulfilled; I’m happy; and I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself,” Barty said, holding back tears. “I’ve said it to my team multiple times – it’s just, I don’t have that in me anymore. I don’t have the physical drive, the emotional want and everything it takes to challenge yourself at the very top level anymore.”
Under the tutelage of coach Craig Tyzzer, the 5-foot-5-inch Barty won three major singles titles – the French Open in 2019, Wimbledon in 2021 and Australian Open this year. She garnered a total of 15 singles titles and 12 in doubles, including the 2018 US Open, more than any active player during that span.
In her certain-to-be Hall of Fame career, across all-levels, Barty produced a 305-102 win-loss record in singles and 200-64 in doubles and earned $23,829,071 in total career prize money. Her current reign of 114 weeks as World No. 1 is the fourth-longest streak in WTA history, behind Steffi Graf (186 weeks), Serena Williams (186) and Martina Navratilova (156). Her 121 total weeks ranks her seventh all-time.
“I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself,” Barty said. “I’ve said it to my team multiple times – ‘I just don’t have that in me anymore.’ Physically, I have nothing more to give.”
In Wednesday’s interview, Barty said that winning Wimbledon last year meant she had attained her “one true dream” in tennis – and with it came a changed perspective. By winning the Australian Open earlier this year, the first Australian to win her home country’s major since 1978, it was “my perfect way to celebrate what an amazing journey my tennis career has been.”
This is Ash Barty’s last ever point at a Grand Slam.
She becomes the Australian Open champion.
— Lukas Weese (@Weesesports) March 23, 2022
Barty’s professional career began in 2010 and initially she found success in doubles by reaching the finals of the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in 2013 with Dellacqua. Her singles success would come later. However, following the 2014 US Open, ranked outside the Top 200 in singles and No. 40 in doubles, at age 18 she announced she was taking a break from tennis in order to play professional cricket. Her tennis sabbatical would last 21 months.
“It was too much too quickly for me, as I’ve been traveling from quite a young age,” Barty said at the time, quoted by the WTA website. “I wanted to experience life as a normal teenaged girl and have some normal experiences.”
Barty returned to tennis in May 2016. A year later, she was ranked 88th and by the end of 2017 she had established herself as a Top 20 player. Soon after, Barty began to win major championships and her three Grand Slams came on three different surfaces – clay, grass and hard court.
In 2020, a semifinal loss to Petra Kvitova at Doha in February would be the last match Barty played that year. She stayed home in Australia after the global pandemic emerged and didn’t return to the WTA Tour until the start of 2021. However, after six months away from home and after winning five titles – including Wimbledon – Barty shut down her season following the US Open. Although she qualified for the Akron WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Barty withdrew, citing continuing COVID-19 travel and quarantine restrictions.
— wta (@WTA) March 23, 2022
Looking back, Barty didn’t lose a match in 2022, going 11-0. She won 25 of her final 26 Tour matches – the only setback was a third-round loss to Shelby Rogers at the 2021 US Open. She began this year with a title run at the Adelaide International, then finished her career by winning the Australian Open. She defeated Danielle Collins, 6-3, 7-6 (2), in the title match. All seven of her Melbourne victories in the Australian Open were in straight sets. The only set she lost this year came in the first set of her first match at Adelaide against Coco Gauff. Then, she went about stringing together 22 straight sets of winning tennis.
Barty withdrew from this month’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. and the Miami Open, saying she needed to be able to focus on recovering from the Australian Open. Although she hadn’t set a time table for a return, it was assumed she would be back in time to play at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
Soon, after word spread of Barty’s retirement announcement, the accolades came pouring in via social media from many of her contemporaries, including Kvitova, Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber and Andy Murray.
Ash, I have no words… actually you are showing your true class leaving tennis in this beautiful way.
I am so happy I could share the court with you.. tennis will never be the same without you! I admire you as a player and a person.. wishing you only the best! ❤️@ashbarty
— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) March 23, 2022
Ash, what can I say, you know I have tears right? My friend, I will miss you on tour. You were different, and special, and we shared some amazing moments. What’s next for you? Grand Slam champion in golf?! Be happy and enjoy your life to the max xo Simo@ashbarty pic.twitter.com/WbX7kXnJ1l
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) March 23, 2022
You will be missed, @AshBarty! You gave all your heart to our sport and inspired so many along your journey.❤️You’re stepping away from tennis as a true champion and on your own terms, simply following your own path, as you always have.Keep chasing your dreams, I know you will ✊🏻 pic.twitter.com/DVEUcpcvKf
— Angelique Kerber (@AngeliqueKerber) March 23, 2022
Happy for @ashbarty gutted for tennis 🎾 what a player❤️
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) March 23, 2022
“I’ve given absolutely everything I can to this beautiful sport of tennis and I’m really happy with that. And for me that is my success. And I know that people may not understand it and that’s OK,” Barty said. “I’m OK with that. Because I know that for me, Ash Barty the person has so many dreams that she wants to chase after that don’t necessarily involve traveling the world, being away from my family, being away from my home, which is where I’ve always wanted to be.
“And I’ll never ever, ever stop loving tennis,” she added. “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 and not Ash Barty the athlete.”