World No.1 Ash Barty has stunned the sporting world by announcing her retirement from tennis on Wednesday.
The Australian Open champion, who hasn’t played since that tournament victory in January, posted on social media that she had decided to call time on her decorated career.
“Today is difficult and filled with emotion for me as I announce my retirement from tennis,” Barty posted on Instagram.
“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.”
Aged just 25, Barty finishes her career with three major singles titles — the 2019 French Open, last year’s Wimbledon, and this year’s Australian Open.
In an emotional interview with close friend Casey Dellaqua, the Ngarigo woman said her perception changed following her Wimbledon win.
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Speaking alongside coach Craig Tyzzer on Thursday, Barty told media to be patient in waiting for her to announce any new ventures, while hinting she could move to another sport in the future.
“I have seen some brilliant photoshops (of me) as a jockey, lawn bowls. I’ve seen a little bit,” she said.
“I love sport. 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.”
Barty said she wants to spend more time with family, while giving back to the community and hopes to encourage more First Nations kids around the country to get into tennis.
“I know my contribution with the Aboriginal and Indigenous side of our sport will only grow,” she said.
“I’m really excited for that, I’m really excited to have the opportunity to give Indigenous youth around our nation more opportunity to get into the sport. “
“That’s something we’ll work on down the track but I am excited to spend more time in that space.”
Ahead of the press conference, Ash Barty called her long-time mentor and close friend Evonne Goolagong Cawley and told reporters she was keen to catch up with the fellow Indigenous trailblazer.
“I just called her and wanted to have a chat with her, and obviously she’s been incredibly supportive,” she said.
“Evonne always knows the right thing to say at the right time. She’s always been there for me but never been in the way, she’s never tried to impose herself. She’s always been someone who has been there for me and I’m so grateful and I can’t wait to spend a bit more time with her now.”
The Wiradjuri woman and former world tennis champion, Goolagong Cawley said she was excited to see what the next chapter brought for Ash.
“I’m so supportive of Ash and making a decision that is the best for her and makes her happy,” the retired champion said.
“I can’t wait to see what the next chapter brings and to watch Ash achieve her dreams.”