WORLD number one Ash Barty has retired from tennis for the second time in her career, aged just 26. Holding the number one ranking for a massive 114 consecutive weeks, the three-time Grand Slam winner and reigning Australian and Wimbledon champion, broke the news today.
“It’s the first time I’ve actually said it out loud and, yeah, it’s hard to say,” Barty told doubles partner Casey Dellacqua in an interview. “But I’m so happy, and I’m so 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 any more. I am spent.”
The Australian star has always played to her own standards, taking time off when she needed, and entering events only when she felt she could perform at the level she wanted. In one of the most remarkable Australian women’s tennis careers – certainly of the modern era – Barty will leave the game with 15 singles and 12 doubles titles – the most of any active player in the span since returning to the WTA Tour.
Across her entire career, Barty finished with a win-loss record of 305-102, and earned almost 24 million USD. Her 121 total weeks at number one in the world put her second on the all-time women’s list, a remarkable achievement given her comparatively minimal years in the game.
“I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself,” Barty said. “I’ve said it to my team multiple times – ‘I just don’t have that in me anymore.’ Physically, I have nothing more to give. I’ve given absolutely everything I have to this beautiful sport of tennis, and I’m really happy with that.
“For me, that is my success.”
Barty’s previous retirement – or break – came when she was 18-years-old as an emerging young star on Tour. She went and took up domestic cricket where she excelled, before returning back to the Tour just under two years later. She quickly rose up the rankings to land in the Top 20, and never dropped out in the past five years. Though many might question if this is just a short break, Barty said it was a different situation.
“I know I’ve done this before, but in a very different feeling,” Barty said. “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.”
Barty became just the second player to retire whilst placed at world number one behind Justin Henin, and Barty is considerably younger. Though to many it will come as a shock, the Australian star said she was comfortable in her decision.
“I know that people may not understand it,” Barty said. “I’m okay with that. “Because I know that for me Ash Barty the person has so many dreams that she wants to chase after that don’t necessarily involve traveling the world, being away from my family from my home, which is where I’ve always wanted to be. It’s where I’ve grown up.”