World No 1 Ashleigh Barty announced a shock decision on Wednesday to announce her retirement from tennis, aged 25.
In an interview posted on social media, Barty talked to her close friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua, talking about her decision.
“It’s the first time I’ve actually said it out loud and, yeah, it’s hard to say,” an emotional Barty said. “But I’m so happy, and I’m so ready.
“I don’t have the physical drive, the emotional want and everything it takes to challenge yourself at the very top of the level anymore. I am spent.
“I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself. 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.”
Just a month short of her 26th birthday, Barty’s current streak as the World No 1 has been on for 114 consecutive weeks, the fourth-longest in WTA history. And this comes from a player who had taken a sabbatical from tennis when she was 18 to play professional cricket.
During the 21-month spell in cricket, she played for the Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash League, playing nine matches for the team, and one for Queensland.
She returned to the tennis court in 2016, and now leaves the sport again for the second time with three Grand Slam singles titles on three different surfaces – 2019 French Open, 2021 Wimbledon and 2022 Australian Open.
The title at Wimbledon though, she said, changed her goals for her career.
“I know I’ve done this before,” Barty said, laughing as she recalled her previous retirement to play cricket. “But in a very different feeling. I’m so grateful to everything that tennis has given me. It’s given me all of my dreams, plus more, but I know that the time is right now for me to step away and chase other dreams and to, yeah, put the rackets down.
“Wimbledon last year changed a lot for me as a person and for me as an athlete. When you work so hard your whole life for one goal. To be able to win Wimbledon, which was my dream, the one true dream that I wanted in tennis, that really changed my perspective.
“I just had that gut feeling after Wimbledon, and had spoken to my team quite a lot about it. There was just a little part of me that wasn’t quite satisfied, wasn’t quite fulfilled. There was a perspective shift in me in the second phase of my career, that my happiness wasn’t dependent on the results.”
Earlier this year, Barty became the first Australian player since Christine O’Neil in 1978 to win her home Slam.
She admitted in the interview that winning the Major in Melbourne was the perfect way to end her career – the last match of her career was at the final against Danielle Collins.
“The challenge of the Australian Open, and I think that for me, feels like the most perfect way – my perfect way – to celebrate what an amazing journey my tennis career has been,” she said. “As a person, this is what I want. I want to chase after some other dreams that I’ve always wanted to do.”
“I know that people may not understand it,” Barty conceded. “I’m OK with that. Because I know that for me Ash Barty the person has so many dreams that she wants to chase after that don’t necessarily involve traveling the world, being away from my family from my home, which is where I’ve always wanted to be. It’s where I’ve grown up.”