Just a few weeks after winning the Australian Open, world number one Ashleigh Barty has announced that she is retiring from competitive tennis. A winner at Roland-Garros 2019 and Wimbledon 2021, the Queenslander departs the sport at the peak of her powers.
Ashleigh Barty announces her retirement
At the age of 25, world number one Ashleigh Barty has announced her retirement in a video posted on social media
“I’m so happy and I’m so ready, and I just know at the moment, in my heart, for me as a person, this is right,” said an emotional Ashleigh Barty, speaking to her friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua in a six-minute video posted on her Instagram account. The dominant force in women’s tennis since September 2019, the 25-year-old Australian retires from the sport having fulfilled her dreams and achieved contentment. “To be able to win Wimbledon, which was my dream, my one true dream that I wanted in tennis, that really changed my perspective and 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 […] Then came the challenges of the Australian Open and I think that for me just feels like the most perfect way, my perfect way to celebrate what an amazing journey my tennis career has been.”
Roland-Garros 2019, a new champion emerges
Barty played her last match at the Rod Laver Arena in January, when she became the first Australian to win the country’s Grand Slam tournament in 44 years and joined the very select band of players to have won a major on three different surfaces. It proved the perfect end to a glittering career. A Wimbledon junior champion in 2011 at the age of 15, Barty was promptly tipped for the very top but took time out from the tour in 2014 to play cricket. After returning to the courts in 2016, she tasted doubles success, winning 12 titles in all – including the 2018 US Open – before moving to the top of the singles rankings in 2019.
The Australian stunned the world by storming to the Roland-Garros title that year, a triumph that marked the start of her long reign at the top of the women’s game, which continued despite her absence from the courts during the pandemic. Her decision to stay at home as the health crisis raged prevented her from defending her Roland-Garros title in autumn 2020. Nevertheless, she consolidated her status as world number one in 2021 by winning five titles, among them Wimbledon, her second Grand Slam crown. Though burdened by a huge weight of national expectation when she arrived in Melbourne in January this year, she swept all before her to secure her 15th and last career title and her third Grand Slam. “Success for me is knowing that I’ve given absolutely everything I can,” she added. “I’m fulfilled, I’m happy, and I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself.”
A courageous decision
Having attained fulfilment with her many achievements, the Australian star said she no longer has the strength or desire to continue playing tournament after tournament and would rather hang up her racquet while on a high. “I don’t have the physical drive, the emotional want and kind of everything it takes to challenge yourself at the very top level anymore,” she acknowledged.
It is a brave decision that has already been praised by the tennis world, with the WTA tweeting: “For every young girl that has looked up to you. For every one of us that you’ve inspired. For your love of the game. Thank you, @ashbarty for the incredible mark you’ve left on-court, off-court and in our hearts.”
“I support Ash in doing what makes her happy,” said Evonne Goolagong Cawley, a friend and mentor to Barty and Australia’s last women’s world number one before her. “I can’t wait to see what happens in the next chapter of Ash’s life and what helps her achieve her dreams.”
More such tributes are sure to be paid to the hugely popular and successful Barty in the hours to come.