Ash Barty, tennis’s world #1, is retiring from the sport at the age of 25

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, tennis players used to retire in their 20s all the time. Most athletes, across all sports, sort of felt like it would be worse than death to still play past 30. There was just such a strong belief that no one was “good” after 30. It feels like in the past 25 years, that perception has changed so much. These days, athletes play well into their 30s, and some of the greats are still going into their 40s (the Williams sisters, Roger Federer, Tom Brady, etc). All of which to say, I’m absolutely stunned at this news. Ash Barty, the world #1 and reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, is retiring just one month before her 26th birthday. WHAT. NOooooo.

Ash Barty surprisingly retired from tennis at age 25 while ranked No. 1 and less than two months after winning the Australian Open for her third Grand Slam singles title.

“I’m so happy and I’m so ready. I just know at the moment, in my heart, for me as a person, this is right,” Barty said, her voice shaky at times, during a six-minute video posted on her Instagram account Wednesday in Australia.

Saying it was time to “chase other dreams,” Barty said she no longer feels compelled to do what she knows is required to be the best she can be at tennis.

Barty announced her engagement to trainee golf professional Garry Kissick in November, leading up to the Australian Open. The pair had been dating since 2016.

“It’s the first time I’ve actually said it out loud and, yeah, it’s hard to say,” Barty said of her decision to retire, which she announced during an informal interview with her former doubles partner, Casey Dellacqua. “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 am spent.”

[From ESPN]

She’s quit the sport before – she retired in 2014 because her mental health was struggling, and she was off the tour for two years before returning. She’s one of the few women in the history of the sport to win Slams on all three surfaces (grass, clay and hard). She was generally considered to be one of the nicest women in the sport and one of the best “number ones.” That being said, everyone knew that 2021 was hard on her, because of the pandemic and being away from her family for something like eight months in a row. My guess is that she went back home last fall and just vowed to never leave for that kind of length of time ever again. She’s very family-focused, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she’s planning to get pregnant very soon, or maybe she already is. In any case, retiring at 25. Bonkers. Good on her, though. Wishing her the best.

Can’t believe she retired before Serena, Venus, Roger…

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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17 Responses to “Ash Barty, tennis’s world #1, is retiring from the sport at the age of 25”

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  1. Runaway says:

    Retire at the top, leave the party early before they toss you out for over staying your welcome. I think ego plays a big part (not the only just a big part) in people’s decisions to stay in their sport past a certain time because they’re just not ready to give up the idea that their best is behind them.
    It sounds like the right decision for her made for the right reasons. She’s so young she still can have any future she wants. Good for her!

  2. Sapphire.Topaz says:

    I am so excited for her. She seems like the sweetest, most down to earth person. She sacrificed so much the last 12 months and she won Wimbledon and then the AO. She knows herself, and she knows she wants to do other things now. Congratulations!

  3. Seaflower says:

    A genuinely wonderful, down to earth , authentic person. Proud she is an Aussie, and that she is taking this step that is right for her and not being pressured to play for $.

  4. TheOriginalMia says:

    Had no idea she’s quit before. It’s definitely the best time for her to go. On top with nothing to prove to anyone. Wish her nothing but the best.

  5. hindulovegod says:

    I’m happy for her. Barty is a good egg and deserves good things. I hope her decision furthers the conversation about the length of the season, number of required tournaments, etc. Osaka gets raked over the coals for discussing it, but it’s a big issue. The off season is weeks, not months. They travel all year. F1 is similar, but they have a real break in the winter. Tennis needs change.

  6. Willow says:

    Professional athletes start playing their sport in childhood. So, it might seem like a short career to us, but for her, it’s literally been a lifetime.
    Happy she was able to stop when she was ready.

    • rrabbit says:

      Yep, quite literally a lifetime.

      Barty became a professional tennis player back in April 2010, at the age of 14. Her professional career alone spans almost 12 years. Then add those years as a child where she trained hard to be at a level where she could go pro at age 14.

  7. sassafras says:

    As an Aussie, I’m absolutely gutted by this news. She was shuch a fantastic role model for the sport. Such an amazing talent, representation for our first nations people, and so humble with all her success. She wasnt a show pony, or rude like some of our other Aussie tennis ‘stars’. I wish her every happiness in her retirement tho, reluctantly as I loved her so much!!

  8. Snooze says:

    Can’t say I’m not selfishly sad about this; but so proud of her and her achievements!

    I have a weird feeling she’s going to pop up in pro golf or cricket…

  9. Sydneygirl says:

    As an Aussie, I am immensely proud of Ash.

    An outstanding competitor and all-round nice person.

    It takes a great deal of courage and fortitude to call time when you’re at the top.

    A true champion. Looking forward to seeing her win on the golf course next.

  10. jo73c says:

    Another proud Aussie here. While we’ll miss her champion tennis playing, that’s only one small part of what makes us all proud of Ash. Her strength of character, which shows in her sportsmanship and the way she treats others, will still be a part of whatever she decides to do next. <3

  11. HeyKay says:

    Congrats to her!
    Hope she goes forward to years of happiness.

  12. MissMarirose says:

    I didn’t know she had retired before. I think we really need to start considering the toll that professional tennis is taking on the mental health of its athletes. It’s been going on for decades. Just off the top of my head, I can think of Naomi Osaka, Jennifer Caprioti, Monica Seles (tho that was a very unique situation), Yannick Noah. I’m sure the list goes on and on.
    Something’s got to change in the professional tennis associations.

  13. olliesmom says:

    I saw this on the news this morning. Good for her! And she’s making room for another woman to reach her goals.

  14. Elvie says:

    This announcement left me feeling so many mixed emotions last night, but despite my heartbreak, I applaud her seeking her own happiness, retiring when she feels good about it, not when she is suffering like she was in 2014. Also, such a baller move retiring as the World No. 1 and reigning champ of two grand slams.

  15. Fig says:

    I”m happy for her since she said she’s made peace with this decision. She’s young so she can come back in 2-3 years if she wants. I believe WTA gives former #1s unlimited wildcards

  16. TEALIEF says:

    It’s good that she’s doing what’s right for her. I’ll miss her on court, she plays old school tennis with slices, angles, and touch. The only thing she didn’t do was the chip and charge. Maybe she’ll be like Kim Clijsters, have another successful comeback. Her singles and doubles success, and personality reminds me of Clijsters as well, minus the crazy gymnastic splits Kim did on court. Kim’s flexibility was insane.