Ash Barty, who has held the title of the WTA’s No. 1-ranked singles player for 114 consecutive weeks, is hanging up the racquet at 25 years old.
In a nearly six-minute-long video posted to Instagram on Tuesday, Barty spoke to fellow Australian tennis player Casey Dellacqua about her decision to retire from tennis.
“I’m so grateful for everything that tennis has given me,” Barty said. “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 put the racquets down.”
Since turning pro in 2010 at the age of 15, Barty amassed a 305-102 record, including 15 career titles and three Grand Slam wins.
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Barty represented Australia at the Tokyo Olympics where she was upset in the opening round of the women’s single event only to bounce back and win bronze in the women’s doubles with partner Storm Sanders.
Her retirement comes as a surprise to many, but Barty said it’s been a discussion among those close to her for some time now.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time and I’ve had a lot of incredible moments in my career that have been pivotal moments,” she said.
Two of those pivotal moments — Grand Slam wins at Wimbledon and the Australian Open — occurred within the past year.
“Wimbledon last year changed a lot for me as a person and me as an athlete when worked so hard your whole life for one goal and I’ve been able to share that with so many incredible people but to be able to win Wimbledon which was my dream, my one true dream that I wanted in tennis that really changed my perspective,” Barty said.
Barty went on to say that she had a “gut feeling” after Wimbledon, something she shared with her team.
“There was just that little part of me that wasn’t quite satisfied, wasn’t quite fulfilled and then came the challenge of the Australian Open,” Barty said. “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.”
For those who question Barty’s announcement to step away when she’s at the top of her game, she said she understands but is comfortable with her decision.
“I know that people may not understand it and that’s OK,” Barty said. “I’m OK with that because I know 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, being away from my home which is where I’ve always wanted to be it’s where I’ve grown up.”
She also said she’s comfortable leaving tennis as a success knowing that she’s given it “absolutely everything.”
“I know that physically I have nothing more to give and that to me, that is success,” Barty said. “I’ve given everything I can to this beautiful sport of tennis and I’m really happy with that and for me that is my success. … I’ll never, ever stop loving tennis. It’ll always be a massive part of my life, but now it’s important that I get to enjoy the next phase of my life as Ash Barty, the person, not Ash Barty, the athlete.”