Ashleigh Barty retirement: Why did she quit tennis?
Ashleigh Barty is a three-time Grand Slam title-winning tennis player
Barty retired as the World No. 1 women's singles tennis player
In her last tournament, Barty won the Australian Open and became the first Aussie to achieve the feat in 44 years
Ashleigh Barty on Wednesday left the tennis world stunned as the World No. 1 women’s singles player announced retirement from the sport at the age of 25. She said, 'I am spent, physically' while justifying her decision to quit tennis.
Barty, who became the first Aussie to win the Australian Open Grand Slam singles title since 1978, stayed away from the court since winning the year’s first Grand Slam at Melbourne Park in January. The Queenslander recently withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in California.
A young promising face in the realm of women’s singles, Barty first climbed to the top of the WTA Rankings on June 24, 2019. She has held the top spot for 114 consecutive weeks till her retirement, the fourth-longest streak in tour history behind Steffi Graf (186 weeks), Serena Williams (186) and Martina Navratilova (156).
As Barty has made the bombshell announcement that she is walking away from the sport, she left her growing number of fans across the world wondering about the reasons for her surprising decision.
Barty said it is a ‘difficult’ and ‘emotional’ moment as she bids farewell to the sport which has always been her priority. She once had switched to cricket in 2014 but returned to tennis in early 2016 as she realised that tennis was her calling. Between 2016 and 2022 she won the French Open (2019), Wimbledon (2021) and Australian Open (2022) and became one of the greatest Australian tennis players in history.
So, for someone who loved tennis dearly, the decision of retirement at this stage would definitely raise eyebrows.
In the highly competitive domain of individual sports like tennis, where success does not come easily, players face a huge physical challenge as maintaining optimum fitness is an essential element of the practice. They also compete with their inner selves to stay in the zone. Doing the same things repeatedly often make athletes jaded, which in the past forced many of the best athletes to take a break or retire. In tennis, there are many names such as Justin Henin, Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick, who unexpectedly retired early in their career.
"I am so thankful for everything this sport has given me and leave feeling proud and fulfilled,” said Barty in an interview.
Shedding light on her decision to quit tennis, Barty said she is "physically spent" and she does not have "anything more to give" to the sport.
"I know that I am spent, physically, I don't have anything more to give. I have given everything I can to this beautiful sport and I'm really happy with that. For me, that is my success,” she added.
"I’m so happy and I’m so ready and I just know at the moment, in my heart for me as a person this is right," she added.
Asked about the possibility of making a comeback as Barty did previously, she ruled out the chances of playing tennis again.
"I am so grateful to everything that tennis has given me. It is given me all of my dreams, plus more.
‘Right time to step away’
"But I know the time is right now for me to step away and chase other dreams and to put the racquets down.”
Barty, who won 15 WTA titles in her career, said that her ultimate wish was to win the prestigious Wimbledon women’s singles title in all white. She achieved the landmark feat of her rather short career last year.
It must be noted that this was Ashleigh Barty’s second ‘retirement’ from Tennis in seven years. In 2014, she hung her tennis kits to try her hands in cricket when she played for Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) side Brisbane Heat.
In Barty's case, though she has not revealed much about competition and mental health, it seemed that she is happy with what she achieved and wants to cherish the memories without taking the stress of performing in the next Grand Slams. Fear of failure haunts athletes. Legendary US gymnast Simone Biles and tennis player Naomi Osaka are among those people, who despite achieving success, fell victim to this menace recently.
Barty will address a press conference on Thursday. She will possibly disclose more details about the reasons that played into her mind before taking the call of retirement.