Ash Barty stunned the whole world when she announced her retirement from tennis just at the age of 25 despite being in the best form of her life. Having started at the top of the WTA rankings for more than 2 years, 112 consecutive weeks to be precise, the Australian had won 2 of the last 3 Grand Slam titles and led the WTA rankings with more than 2000 points.
Barty however chose to retire stating that she no longer had the hunger to continue playing having achieved all of the major goals that she had when starting as a Pro. With the desire to pursue other goals in life, Barty called it quits on her illustrious career that spanned for more than 10 years having turned Pro just a few days after her 14th birthday.
The decision was not however met well by former British No. 1 Samantha Smith who spoke recently with Wide World of Sports. Having been a Pro herself and now an active analyst and commentator at various big tournaments, the Brit believed that the decision by Barty came too early but also praised her for going out on her own terms.
“She’d done a brilliant job of holding the reigns. She’s a very smart young woman. When they get this level of success and fame so quickly, you see athletes losing control so quickly. She has absolutely stayed true to what she feels is right. She doesn’t chase money or fame. She’s in charge. It’s very disappointing for everyone who loves tennis, but this is what she wants.
“It’s a shame that she didn’t get to go back onto centre court, she would have opened centre court at Wimbledon this summer, we have that lovely tradition, and she would have gone back to Australia in January as the defending champion, that would have been really special. To go back to those two Grand Slams as defending champion would have been something, Wimbledon because of the history and the way the defending champion is treated, and Melbourne because it’s her home event,” said Smith.
“There are those of us twice Ash Barty’s age still trying to figure it out and she’s left us floundering”: Samantha Smith
Smith however emphasised that Barty was brave to take such a big decision at such an important juncture in her career and not many can afford to do it, which shows how well planned she is. Smith did not take names but hinted that many others have taken early retirements or are still trying to figure out what to do in life after sports but Barty has everything planned from what it looks like.
“But I’m sure she’s thought of that. Not all athletes want to play until their 30s. It’s very strong-minded of her to do this. I think she’s one of the most self-aware athletes in the world. Most athletes wouldn’t be conscious enough of what fulfilled them, especially at that age. At 25 she’s got it all figured out. There are those of us twice her age still trying to figure it out and she’s left us floundering. She knows what makes her tick and what she wants.
“Most athletes are not that far down the line, they think their sport is everything. She’s fulfilled by other things. I think there are so many athletes who would love to make different decisions but they’re pulled in different directions and by the end, they don’t know who they are, and they’re quite unhappy. She’s in charge. It’s her life,” added Smith.