World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty has shocked the tennis world on Wednesday by announcing her retirement from the sport after winning three major singles titles in the last three years.
“Today is difficult and filled with emotion for me as I announce my retirement from tennis,” the 25-year-old Australian said in the caption of an Instagram post.
“I am so thankful for everything this sport has given me and leave feeling proud and fulfilled. Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way, I’ll always be grateful for the lifelong memories that we created together.”
It was the Queenslander’s second coming after she took an indefinite break in 2014, while ranked outside the top 200, because “it was too much too quickly for me as I’ve been travelling from quite a young age”, saying she wanted to experience life “as a normal teenaged girl”.
Barty said she had been thinking about retiring from tennis “for a long time”
On Wednesday she held back tears as she broke the news in a video.
“That’s the first time I’ve said it out loud, and it’s hard to say,” Barty said. “But I am so happy, and I’m so ready, and I just know at the moment in my heart [that] for me as a person, this is right.
“I know I’ve done this before, but in a very different feeling, and I’m so grateful for everything tennis has given me – it’s given me all my dreams plus more.
Barty said she had been thinking about retiring “for a long time” and had “a gut feeling” after last year’s Wimbledon win.
“There was just a little part of me that wasn’t quite satisfied, wasn’t quite fulfilled,” she said. “And then came the challenge of the Australian Open, and I think that for me just feels like the perfect way, my perfect way to celebrate what an amazing journey my tennis career has been.”
“I am spent – I just know physically I have nothing more to give”
Barty withdrew from this month’s Indian Wells tournament and the Miami Open, saying she needed to focus on recovering from her exploits at Melbourne Park, with both Roland Garros and Wimbledon on the horizon.
“I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself and I’ve said it to my team multiple times, it’s just I don’t have that in me any more,” she said. “I don’t have the physical drive, the emotional want and everything it takes to challenge yourself at the very top of the level any more.
“I just know that I am absolutely – I am spent – I just know physically I have nothing more to give. And that to me is success. I have given absolutely everything I can to this beautiful sport of tennis.”