Ash Barty, top-ranked tennis star, announces retirement at 25

Barty won the Australian Open in January.

March 24, 2022, 7:34 AM

World No. 1 Ash Barty announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 25 on Wednesday.

She addressed her shocking exit from the sport on Thursday, telling reporters, "I'm a sport nut, like a lot of Australians are. I'll be lured to it. I have always been an athlete in the sense of trying different things but we'll see how we go."

The Australian star is retiring not only as she holds the top rank for women's tennis, but also just two months after she won the Australian Open on her home turf. About six months earlier, she claimed the title at Wimbledon.

That Wimbledon win was a pivotal moment that led up to her decision to retire after working "so hard your whole life for one goal," she said.

"To be able to win Wimbledon, which was my dream -- the one, true dream that I wanted in tennis -- that really changed my perspective," she said in a six-minute video posted to Instagram talking to former player Casey Dellacqua. "I just had that gut feeling after Wimbledon."

She added, "It's hard to say, but 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."

Still, Barty said, after victory on that famed grass court, "there was just a little part of me that wasn't quite satisfied, wasn't quite fulfilled." That feeling was answered, she said, by being able to bring it home at the Australian Open, which she called "my perfect way" to celebrate her career.

PHOTO: Australia's world number one Ashleigh Barty gestures during her retirement announcement in Brisbane, Australia.
Australia's world number one Ashleigh Barty gestures during her retirement announcement in Brisbane, Australia.
Ash Barty via Reuters

Despite a great professional year, it was somewhat of a trying one personally, she said. In order to compete at the opens around the world, she lived away from home for some six months to avoid having to quarantine reentering Australia, which would have interfered with her training.

"Without a doubt it was something that was new to me, new to try and wrap my head around and comprehend where we're going to be away for such an extended period," she said in March 2021, according to The Guardian. "Of course there were tears the days leading up. There were tears when I did finally leave, and then when we left."

She spoke frequently throughout the season about how difficult it was to be away from home -- and how significant it was for her to be able to return and win in Australia.

"As an Aussie, the most important part of this tournament is being able to share it with so many people," she said after winning in January, according to The New York Times.

This is not Barty's first time leaving tennis, although she said in her Wednesday announcement this time felt different. In 2014, after succeeding at the junior level, she left the sport to travel less and spend more time with family. She transitioned over to playing cricket before returning to tennis in 2016.

While it may be the end of the tennis-related "Barty Party," she's looking forward to her future.

"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, being away from my home, which is where I've always wanted to be," she said.

Speculation has been swirling in local media that Barty might pick up professional golf, cricket or Australian Rules football. Barty played one season of professional cricket in 2015.

She added that her first priority will be giving back to the community: "I have always wanted to have the time to contribute more in other ways and now I have that opportunity. That is what lights me up inside.”

Barty said she was eager to help provide more opportunities for other Indigenous Australians to become athletes at a young age.

“I know my contribution with the Aboriginal and Indigenous side of our sport will only grow," she said.

ABC News' Britt Clennett contributed to this report.

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