World No. 1 Ash Barty, 25, announces retirement from tennis

In a stunning move, Australia’s Ash Barty, the No. 1-ranked women’s tennis player in the world, announced her retirement from the sport at the age of 25 on Tuesday.

Barty said in an emotional video posted Wednesday local time on social media: “I’m so happy and I’m so ready. I just know at the moment in my heart for me as a person this is right. ”

The announcement comes less than two months after she won her home Australian Open, her third Grand Slam singles title.

“It’s the first time I’ve actually said it out loud and, yeah, it’s hard to say, ” Barty told her former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua in the video interview.” ready.

“I don’t have the physical drive, the emotional want and everything it takes to challenge yourself at the very top of the level anymore. I am spent.”

Barty, who left tennis in 2014 to pursue a professional cricket career but returned to the sport two years later, won her three major singles titles on three different surfaces – on clay at the 2019 French Open, on grass at Wimbledon last year and on the hard courts of Melbourne Park at the Australian Open in January.

The WTA Tour said Barty has held the No. 1 ranking for 114 consecutive weeks.

She is the second woman to retire while being ranked No. 1 in the world. Justine Henin retired on May 14, 2008, after spending 61 consecutive weeks ranked at the top. Henin also was 25 at the time of her retirement di lei, but did come back two years after her announcement di lei, reaching the final of the 2010 Australian Open before stepping away for good in 2011.

“Ashleigh Barty with her signature slice backhand, complemented by being the ultimate competitor, has always led by example through the unwavering professionalism and sportsmanship she brought to every match,” WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon said in a statement. “With her accomplishments di lei at the Grand Slams, WTA Finals, and reaching the pinnacle ranking of No.1 in the world, she has clearly established herself as one the great champions of the WTA.

“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.”

During her 21-month sabbatical from tennis as a teen, Barty played cricket with the Brisbane Heat of the Women’s Big Bash League. She returned to tennis in May 2016, playing a $ 50,000 ITF event in Eastbourne – winning three qualifying matches and three more in the main draw.

One year later, she was ranked No. 88; by the end of 2017, Barty was an established member of the top 20.

She won 15 tour-level titles in singles and another 12 in doubles since first turning pro in 2010. Wednesday’s announcement was all the more stunning from an on-court perspective given her recent run of success: Barty had won 25 of her past 26 matches and three of her past four events.

“I know I’ve done this before, ” Barty said with a laugh in the retirement video,” but in a very different feeling. I’m so grateful to everything that tennis has given me. 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, yeah, put the rackets down. ”

A semifinal loss to Petra Kvitova in Doha in February was the last match she played in 2020; Barty stayed home in Australia for the balance of the season when the global pandemic emerged.

After six months on the road in 2021 and after winning five titles, including at Wimbledon, Barty ended her season abruptly after a loss to Shelby Rogers at the US Open.

“Wimbledon last year changed a lot for me as a person and for me as an athlete, ” Barty said.” When you work so hard your whole life for one goal – to be able to win Wimbledon, which was my dream, the one true dream that I wanted in tennis, that really changed my perspective. “

She described what she termed a “gut feeling ” after Wimbledon about maybe being ready to move on, but she also described herself then as not” quite fulfilled. “

Her victory at the Australian Open satisfied another gap, and Barty said she was completely aware that “my happiness wasn’t dependent on the results. ”

Earlier this month, Barty pulled out of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and the Miami Open, citing a need for ongoing recovery after winning the Australian Open.

ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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