At the peak of her sport, Ashleigh Barty is retiring from tennis.
In a stunning move, Barty, the No.1-ranked player who won her country’s major tournament, the Australian Open, in January, announced on Wednesday that she was quitting tennis for other pursuits.
Barty, who turns 26 next month, posted a video on Instagram announcing his decision through a conversation with fellow countryman Casey Dellacqua, a retired player, one of his closest friends and a former doubles partner. . Barty said she would also hold a press conference.
“It’s hard to say, but I’m so happy and I’m so ready,” Barty said. “And I just know right now in my heart for me as a person, that’s right.”
She added: “I’m so grateful for everything tennis has given me – it’s given me all my dreams, and more – but I know the time has come for me to walk away and pursue. other dreams and put the snowshoes down.
It was Barty’s third time stepping away from professional tennis, but the first time she announced her retirement. In 2014, aged 17, already one of the sport’s top doubles players, she took an indefinite hiatus from touring, citing the pressures generated by early success. During this 17-month hiatus, she played professional cricket but returned to tennis in early 2016 invigorated and began her rise to the top.
Barty also took an 11-month break from touring at the start of the pandemic, staying in Australia instead of traveling to overseas tournaments even after the five-month break from touring ended in August 2020.
But the surprise announcement of her retirement, at a time when the tour is in full swing and after her latest triumph in Melbourne, is clearly a decision she has considered long and in a position of strength.
“There was a change of perspective in me in the second phase of my career that my happiness didn’t depend on results and success for me is knowing that I gave absolutely everything, everything I can. “, Barty told Dellacqua. ” I’m satisfied. I am happy.”
“I know how much work it takes to bring out the best in yourself,” she said, later adding, “I just don’t have that in me anymore. I no longer have the physical drive, the emotional desire and kind of everything it takes to challenge myself at the highest level and I think I just know that I’m absolutely, I’m exhausted.
She is the first female player to retire while top of the singles chart since Belgian star Justine Henin unexpectedly announced her retirement in May 2008. Henin, like Barty, was just 25 and was defending champion of two Grand Slam tournaments: the Roland-Garros and the US Open in the case of Henin. Henin then returned to the tour in 2010, although she never won another major title.
If Barty sticks to her decision, she will be the first player to retire after winning a Grand Slam singles title since Pete Sampras, the American star who hasn’t played another match after winning the US Open 2002, announcing his retirement almost a year later.
Barty has won 15 career singles titles, including three at Grand Slams: she won the French Open in 2019, Wimbledon in 2021 and the Australian Open this year.
Barty said winning Wimbledon, long considered the ultimate feat for Australian tennis players with their country’s close ties to Britain, changed his outlook on his career. Winning the Australian Open gave him a storybook ending.
“To be able to win Wimbledon, which was my dream, my only real dream that I wanted in tennis, it really changed my perspective,” she said, adding, “And there was just a little part of me that wasn’t quite satisfied, wasn’t quite satisfied. And then came the challenges of the Australian Open and I think that feels like the most perfect path to me. My ideal way to celebrate how amazing my tennis career has been.
Barty continued: “I gave absolutely everything I could to this beautiful sport of tennis and I’m really happy about that. And for me, that’s my achievement. And I know people can’t. I don’t understand that and that’s OK I’m okay with that Because I know for me Ash Barty the person has so many dreams they want to pursue that don’t necessarily involve traveling the world, d ‘to be away from my family, to be away from home, where I’ve always wanted to be.”