Ash Barty dropped a bombshell on the tennis world on Wednesday. Barty retires at 25 just two months after claiming a third Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.
Citing the fulfillment of her tennis goals and fatigue with life on the Tour, the world number one walks away with 15 titles to her name, the last coming at Melbourne Park where she ended Australia’s 44-year wait for a home champion.
“I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself … I don’t have that in me anymore,” she said in a video posted on her Instagram account on Wednesday.
“I don’t have the physical drive, the emotional want, and everything it takes to challenge yourself at the very top level anymore. I am spent.”
It marks Barty’s second retirement from the sport, having walked away from the game as a teenager in late-2014 after becoming disaffected by the Tour.
She returned in 2016 and rocketed up the rankings, earning global acclaim for her tennis and fans’ affection for her fair play and laid-back demeanor.
Spending 121 weeks as world number one, Barty won the 2019 French Open and Wimbledon in 2021 and appeared well set for more Grand Slam success to take her place among the game’s greats.
However, she never made any secret of her dislike for the touring life and her battles with homesickness.
Ash Barty the person has so many dreams “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,” she said
“I’ll never, ever stop loving tennis, it’s been a massive part of my life, but I think it’s important that I get to enjoy the next part of my life as Ash Barty the person, not Ash Barty the athlete.”
“I’m so grateful for tennis. It’s given me all of my dreams, plus more, but I know the time is right now for me to step away and chase other dreams and to put the racquets down.”
She bows out with almost $24 million in career prize money and as a national hero by beating American Danielle Collins in the Australian Open in the final in January.
As the second Aboriginal Australian 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.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison thanked Barty for “inspiring a generation of young people and particularly a generation of young indigenous people” in Australia.
WTA boss Steve Simon said Barty led by example through her professionalism and fair play in every match.
“With her accomplishments at the Grand Slams, WTA Finals, and reaching the pinnacle ranking of No.1 in the world, she has established herself as one of the great champions of the WTA.”
Her retirement echoes Justine Henin’s decision to quit in 2008 as a 25-year-old world number one with seven Grand Slam titles. Henin came out of retirement in 2010, inspired by fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters’ comeback.
Australia will hope Barty’s second retirement ends up like her first, broken by another comeback and more Grand Slam silverware.