WTA Tour News: World #1 Ash Barty shocks tennis with sudden retirement

Ash Barty at the 2018 US Open. By Carine06 from UK, CC BY-SA 2.0, https commons.wikimedia.org

MIAMI — Ashleigh Barty, the No.1-ranked WTA player for 114 consecutive weeks and counting, announced her retirement from tennis on Tuesday. The outgoing Australian is one month shy of her 26th birthday.

It’s extremely rare for a professional athlete in any sport to step away while at the very top of her game, but Barty leaves with a sterling set of credentials that will almost certainly land her in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Barty won three major singles titles on three different surfaces – the 2019 French Open, the 2021 Wimbledon and, back in January, the Australian Open. In all, she collected 15 titles in singles and 12 in doubles – more than any other active player in that span.

Across all-levels of play, Barty produced a 305-102 record in singles and a 200-64 record in doubles, earning total career prize money of $23,829,071.

Barty’s current reign as No.1 is the fourth-longest streak in the history of the Hologic WTA Tour, behind Steffi Graf (186 weeks), Serena Williams (186) and Martina Navratilova (156). Her 121 total weeks are No.7 all time.

“It’s the first time I’ve actually said it out loud and, yeah, it’s hard to say,” an emotional Barty told former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua in an interview. “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 any more. I am spent.”

FROM WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

Ashleigh Barty (born 24 April 1996) is an Australian former professional tennis player and cricketer. She was the second Australian tennis player to be ranked No. 1 in the world in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) after fellow Indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley, holding the ranking for 120 weeks overall. She was also a top-ten player in doubles, having achieved a career-high ranking of No. 5 in the world. Barty is a three-time Grand Slam singles champion, and the reigning champion at Wimbledon and the Australian Open. She is also a Grand Slam doubles champion, having won the 2018 US Open with CoCo Vandeweghe. Barty won 15 singles titles and 12 doubles titles on the WTA Tour.

Born in Ipswich, Queensland, Barty began playing tennis at the age of four in nearby Brisbane. She had a promising junior career, reaching a career-high ranking of No. 2 in the world after winning the 2011 Wimbledon girls’ singles title. As a teenager, Barty had early success in doubles on the WTA Tour in 2013, finishing runner-up at three Grand Slam doubles events with veteran Casey Dellacqua, including at the 2013 Australian Open while 16 years old. Late in the 2014 season, Barty decided to take an indefinite break from tennis. She ended up playing cricket during this hiatus, signing with the Brisbane Heat for the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League season despite having no formal training in the sport.

Barty returned to tennis in early 2016. She had a breakthrough year in singles in 2017, winning her first WTA title at the Malaysian Open and rising to No. 17 in the world despite having never been ranked inside the top 100 before her time off. She also had another prolific year in doubles with Dellacqua, culminating in her first appearance at the WTA Finals in doubles. Barty then won her first Premier Mandatory and Grand Slam tournament titles in doubles in 2018 before accomplishing the same feat in singles in 2019, highlighted by her victory at the 2019 French Open. Barty won five more titles in 2021, including a second major singles title at the 2021 Wimbledon Championships, and two WTA 1000 titles. With her title at the 2022 Australian Open, she has won a major in singles on all three surfaces. Barty has also led Australia to a runner-up finish at the 2019 Fed Cup and won a bronze medal in mixed doubles at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Barty was an all-court player with a wide variety of shots. Despite her short stature for a professional tennis player, she was an excellent server, regularly ranking among the WTA Tour’s leaders in aces and percentage of service points won. She serves as the National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador for Tennis Australia. Barty announced her retirement from tennis in March 2022, two months after her Australian Open title and still ranked No. 1 in singles at the time, having held the ranking for all but four weeks between June 2019 and March 2022.

COURTESY WTA TOUR AND WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

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