Just months after winning her third Grand Slam at the 2022 Australian Open, Ash Barty has announced a shock retirement from professional tennis aged 25. Needless to say, the tennis world was stunned as Barty was at the peak of her game and was still in the prime of her career.
Tributes poured in for Barty after she posted an emotional video on her social media announcing her early retirement. Current players and former greats of tennis all hailed Barty for the incredible success she had and wished her for the road ahead. While others expressed their disbelief over the sudden announcement. Amidst all the chaos and confusion, one question stood out, what was the reason behind Barty’s sudden retirement.
What is the reason behind Ash Barty’s early retirement?
Barty sat down with her long-time friend and former doubles partner, Casey Dellacqua to announce the decision and speak about the reason behind it. Barty said this wasn’t the first time, the thoughts of retirement crossed her mind. Barty won her 2nd Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2021, the Australian said that was a turning point in her career not only as an athlete but as a person.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. And I’ve had a lot of incredible moments in my career that have been pivotal moments. Wimbledon last year changed a lot for me as a person, and for me as an athlete when you work so hard your whole life for one goal. But to win Wimbledon which was my dream, the one true dream that I wanted in tennis, that really changed my perspective,” she said.
Such thoughts might not have surprised some tennis faithful as Barty has taken extended breaks from tennis multiple times. Barty took a two-year hiatus in 2015 from tennis to take a detour and play cricket. She made a stunning comeback to tour since then, making her mark as one of the best tennis players. But from her own words, it looked clear that the World No.1 wanted to be in a relatively calming headspace away from her taxing and rigorous tennis life.
“I don’t even know if I’d be sitting here talking to you if I was playing tennis [and I] didn’t step away. I needed time to step away, to live a normal life, because this tennis life certainly isn’t normal. I think I needed time to grow as a person, to mature,” she said in an earlier interview.
‘I’ve given absolutely everything I can’: Ash Barty
Barty took a hiatus in 2020 as well, citing travel restrictions and it paid off for her, as she won two Grand Slams in successive years. The Australian Open triumph earlier this year was the cherry on top as Barty ended Australia’s 44-year-old wait for a home champion. But that also proved to be the tipping point for Barty and the elusive home Grand Slam title was the one that wrapped it up for the 3-time Major winner.
“And then came the challenge of the Australian Open. And I think that for me just feels like the perfect way, my perfect way to celebrate what an amazing journey my tennis career has been. As a person, this is what I want. I want to chase after some other dreams that I’ve always wanted to do. Always had that really healthy balance. I don’t have the physical drive, the emotional want, and everything it takes to challenge yourself for the top level, and I am spent. Physically I have nothing more to give.”
Barty also hinted that spending more time with her family might have also prompted her to take this decision. The Australian took a hiatus during the pandemic and said she wanted to spend more time with her family. She also made a mention of it this time around saying staying away from home isn’t exactly her priority at the moment and with the rigorous scheduling of tennis, it was hard for her to be away from her family.
“I am OK with that because I know for me Ash Barty the person has so many dreams that she wants to chase after, that don’t necessarily involve travelling the world, being away from my family, being away from my home which is where I’ve always wanted to be,” she said.