World No 1 Ash Barty announces retirement at 25March 24, 2022
Australia’s world number one Ash Barty has decided to retire from professional tennis at the age of 25. The announcement comes less than two months after she won her home Australian Open, her third Grand Slam singles title.
Barty said in an emotional video posted Wednesday on social media: “I wasn’t quite sure of how I was gonna do this . . . it’s hard to say … I’m so happy and I’m so ready. I just know at the moment in my heart for me as a person this is right.”
“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,” she said.
It’s extremely rare for a professional athlete in any sport to step away while at the very top of her game, but Barty leaves with a sterling set of credentials that will almost certainly land her in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Barty won three major singles titles on three different surfaces – the 2019 French Open, the 2021 Wimbledon and, back in January, the Australian Open. In all, she collected 15 titles in singles and 12 in doubles – more than any other active player in that span.
Barty’s current reign as No.1 is the fourth-longest streak in the history of the Hologic WTA Tour, behind Steffi Graf (186 weeks), Serena Williams (186) and Martina Navratilova (156). Her 121 total weeks are No.7 all time.
“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.”
WTA Chairman & CEO Steve Simon said, “With her accomplishments at the Grand Slams, WTA Finals and reaching the pinnacle ranking of No.1 in the world, she has clearly established herself as one the great champions of the WTA.
“We wish Ash only the very best and know that she will continue to be a tremendous ambassador for the sport of tennis as she embarks on this new chapter of her life. We will miss her.”
Barty has always been unconventional with regard to her stellar career. She and Dellacqua had enormous success playing doubles, reaching the finals of the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in 2013. But one year later, ranked outside Top 200 in singles and No.40 in doubles, Barty – then only 18 – decided to take a break.
“It was too much too quickly for me, as I’ve been traveling from quite a young age,” she said at the time. “I wanted to experience life as a normal teenaged girl and have some normal experiences.”
Her 21-month sabbatical from tennis included a stint playing cricket with the Brisbane Heat of the Women’s Big Bash League. She returned in May 2016, playing a $50,000 ITF event in Eastbourne – winning three qualifying matches and three more in the main draw. One year later, she was ranked No. 88 and by the end of 2017 Barty was an established Top 20 player.
Barty didn’t lose a match in her abbreviated 2022 season, going 11-0 and winning 25 of her final 26 matches. She opened with title run at the Adelaide International, then finished her career with a flourish, as it turned out, winning the Australian Open. She became the first Australian to win the title at her home Grand Slam event in 44 years.
Barty becomes the second reigning World No.1 ranked woman to retire while on top, following Justine Henin, who retired on in May of 2008, after 61 consecutive weeks at No.1. Henin returned to play two years later.
Kim Clijsters retired for the first time in 2007 at the age of 23 and ranked No.4. She returned two years later, won back-to-back US Open titles, then retired a second time from 2012-20. Clijsters is currently an active player. Eleven-time Grand Slam champion Bjorn Borg retired at the age of 26 in 1983, then came back to play from 1991-93.