World No 1 Ashleigh Barty’s surprise retirement from tennis was met with shock and an outpouring of well-wishes from current and former greats on Wednesday.
The three-time Grand Slam champion shared a video on social media in which she said she would “step away and chase other dreams”.
The decisions comes just weeks after Barty became the first home singles champion of the Australian Open in 44 years, and also joining tennis royalty’s most exclusive club with a Grand Slam crown on three different surfaces.
In the video message with her close friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua, Barty said she was “thankful for everything this sport has given me”.
“I’m so happy, and I’m so ready and I just know at the moment in my heart as a person, this is right. I’m so grateful for everything that tennis has given me, it’s given me all of my dreams plus more.
“But I know the time is now right for me to step away and chase other dreams and put the racquets down.”
Barty has been world number one for more than two years and retires after winning three Grand Slam singles titles – the French Open in 2019, Wimbledon in 2021 and the Australian Open this year.
Karolina Pliskova, who Barty defeated in the final to win Wimbledon last year, congratulated the Australian for an “incredible career”.
“It was a privilege to share a court with you,” tweeted the Czech, a former World No 1. “You will be missed.”
Britain’s three-time Grand Slam champion and former number one Andy Murray said on Twitter: “Happy for @ashbarty. Gutted for tennis. What a player”
Romania’s Simona Halep addressed Barty directly: “Ash, what can I say, you know I have tears right? My friend, I will miss you on tour. You were different, and special, and we shared some amazing moments.”
The former World No 1 speculated what may be next for Barty: “Grand Slam champion in golf?!”
American Andy Roddick offered a succinct reaction, retweeting the announcement with a simple “wow”.
The World Tennis Association thanked Barty “for the indelible mark you’ve left on-court, off-court and in our hearts”.
“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,” according to WTA.
Widely seen as one of the most respected and loved players on tour, Barty rapidly became the best, with her dizzying array of slices, pinpoint serving and seamless forehand typifying her all-round game.
Here are some more reactions to the decision: