Australian world number one Ash Barty has retired aged 25 and at the top of her game, citing fulfilling her tennis goals and fatigue from life on the Tour.
She leaves with 15 titles, less than two months after winning the Australian Open, her third Grand Slam singles triumph after Wimbledon in 2021 and the French Open 2019.
“I know how much work it takes to bring out the best in yourself… I don’t have that in me anymore,” she said in a video posted to her Instagram account on Wednesday.
“I no longer have the physical motivation, the emotional desire and whatever it takes to challenge myself at the highest level. I’m exhausted.”
It marks Barty’s second retirement from the sport, having left the game as a teenager at the end of 2014 after being unhappy with the Tour.
She returned in 2016 and quickly climbed the rankings, earning worldwide fame for her brilliant tennis and the affection of fans for her unflinching sportsmanship and laid-back demeanor.
She spent a total of 121 weeks as world number one and seemed destined for more success in the game’s biggest tournaments.
WATCH | Barty ends Australian drought with Australian Open win:
However, she never hid her dislike of the touring life and her battles with homesickness.
“Ash Barty, the person has so many dreams that they want to pursue that don’t necessarily involve traveling the world, being away from my family, being away from home, that’s where I always wanted to be,” she said. in the video, being interviewed by her close friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua.
“I will never, ever stop loving tennis, it’s been a big part of my life, but I think it’s important that I can enjoy the next part of my life as Ash Barty the nobody, not Ash Barty the athlete.”
Ash, what can I say, you know I have tears, don’t you? My friend, I will miss you on tour. You were different and special, and we shared some amazing times. What’s next for you? Golf Grand Slam Champion?! Be happy and enjoy your life to the fullest xo Simo@ashbarty pic.twitter.com/WbX7kXnJ1l
“What a player”
Barty suffered from depression on the Tour after turning professional as a teenager, which led her to quit and briefly reinvent herself as a professional cricketer in her home state of Queensland.
When the COVID-19 pandemic brought elite tennis to a halt in 2020, she took nearly a year off to spend time with her family rather than rejoin the circuit after it resumed.
“I know I’ve done this before, but in a different feeling,” she said.
“I’m so grateful for tennis, it gave me all my dreams, and more, but I know now is the time for me to walk away and pursue other dreams and put the rackets down.”
As the second Australian Aborigine to win a Grand Slam title, following in the footsteps of the great Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Barty has also become an idol for her country’s indigenous population.
Barty’s bombshell sparked tributes from players and officials.
“Happy for @ashbarty, gutted for tennis,” said Briton Andy Murray. “What a player.”
WTA boss Steve Simon said Barty always led by example “through the unwavering professionalism and sportsmanship she brought to every game.
His retirement echoes Justine Henin’s decision to quit in 2008 as the 25-year-old world number one with seven Grand Slam titles. Henin came out of retirement in 2010, inspired by the return of fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters.
2005 US Open champion Clijsters retired in 2007 at the age of 23, but returned after a two-year hiatus to win three more Grand Slam titles.