The Australian star said she was ‘happy and ready’ to step away from professional tennis
Women’s world number one Ashleigh Barty has stunned the tennis world by announcing her retirement at the age of 25, saying she had decided to “chase other dreams and to put the rackets down.”
Barty became the first home player to win a singles title at the Australian Open in 44 years in January, making her a three-time Grand Slam champion after success at the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon in 2021.
The Australian star has spent 121 weeks at the top of the WTA rankings since 2019, but said in a retirement announcement posted on Instagram that she felt “spent.”
“Today is difficult and filled with emotion for me as I announce my retirement from tennis,” Barty wrote as she shared the news in an interview with fellow former Australian professional Casey Dellacqua.
“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.”
In the clip, Barty said she was “happy” with her decision to walk away, and that this time it would be unlike the hiatus she took back in 2014, when she dabbled with professional cricket before returning to the court in 2016.
“I know I’ve done this [retired] before but in a very different feeling and I am so grateful to everything that tennis has given me,” said Barty.
“It’s given me all of my dreams, plus more, but I know that the time is right now for me to step away and chase other dreams and to put the rackets down.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time and I’ve had a lot of incredible moments in my career that have been pivotal moments.
“Wimbledon last year changed a lot for me as a person and for me as an athlete when you work so hard your whole life for one goal, and I’ve been able to share that with so many incredible people.
“But to be able to win Wimbledon, which was my dream – the one, true dream I wanted in tennis – that really changed my perspective. I just had that gut feeling after Wimbledon and had spoken to my team quite a lot about it.
“There was just a little part of me that wasn’t quite satisfied, wasn’t quite fulfilled. And then came the challenge of the Australian Open.
“That for me just feels like the perfect way – my perfect way – to celebrate what an amazing journey my tennis career has been.
“As a person, this is what I want. I want to chase after some other dreams that I’ve always wanted to do, and always had that really healthy balance, but I’m really, really excited.”
After winning the Australian Open in January, Barty pulled out of major WTA events at Indian Wells and Miami, signaling that she had not physically recovered from her exertions.
Barty said in her retirement clip that she had undergone a “perspective shift” in the latter part of her career, leading to Wednesday’s announcement.
“I’m fulfilled, I’m happy, and I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself. I just 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,” said the star, who has been praised for bringing attention to Australia’s indigenous community through her Aboriginal roots.
Barty becomes the first woman to announce her retirement from the world number one spot since Belgium’s Justine Henin did so as a 25-year-old back in 2008, in her case having won seven Grand Slam titles. Henin would reverse that decision 16 months later but retired again in 2011.
Barty said she could no longer face the physical demands or the travel toll of being on the WTA tour.
“I am spent. I just know physically I have nothing more to give and that, for me, is success. I’ve given absolutely everything I can to this beautiful sport of tennis and I’m really happy with that,” said Barty.
“I know that people may not understand it. And that’s OK, 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.”
A host of tennis stars – female and male – paid tribute to Barty after her announcement, while WTA boss Steve Simon praised her as “one of the great champions.”
“We wish Ash only the very best and know that she will continue to be a tremendous ambassador for the sport of tennis as she embarks on this new chapter of her life. We will miss her,” read a statement from Simon.
Barty retires having amassed total career prize money of $23.8 million, according to the WTA, with 15 senior career titles in singles events and 12 in doubles.
https://ift.tt/a2nFcVN 23, 2022 at 01:31PM
from RT – Daily news