Ash Barty surprisingly retired from tennis at age 25 while ranked No. 1 and less than two months after winning the Australian Open for her third Grand Slam singles title.
“I just know at the moment, in my heart, for me as a person, this is right,” Barty said, her voice shaky at times, during a six-minute video posted on her Instagram account Wednesday in Australia.
Saying it was time to “chase other dreams,” Barty, who announced her engagement to trainee golf professional Garry Kissick in November, said she no longer feels compelled to do what she knows is required to be the best she can be at tennis. “It´s the first time I´ve actually said it out loud and, yeah, it´s hard to say,” Barty said during an informal interview with her former doubles partner, Casey Dellacqua. “I don´t have the physical drive, the emotional want and everything it takes to challenge yourself at the very top level any more. I am spent.”
This is not the first time Barty walked away from tennis: She was the Wimbledon junior champion at age 15 in 2011, presaging a promising professional career, but left the tour entirely for nearly two years in 2014 because of burnout, overwhelmed by the pressure and travel required.
She played professional cricket back home in Australia, then eventually picked up a racket once again and returned to her other sport. Barty went on to win singles major championships on three different surfaces – on clay at the 2019 French Open, on grass at Wimbledon last year and on the hard courts of Melbourne Park in January, becoming the first Australian player in 44 years to triumph at the nation’s Grand Slam tournament. But she hasn’t played a tournament since being presented with her Australian Open trophy by seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley, her mentor and Indigenous and Australian tennis icon, after a straight-sets final victory over Danielle Collins.