No more Barty Party? Ash declares game, set, and match.
We know there are bigger issues in the world right now, but after headlining our Australian Open tennis blog just a few weeks ago, we could hardly let this bolt from the blue pass without comment.
Yesterday, our beloved Ash Barty, just 25 years old, announced her retirement from tennis.
Success for me is knowing that I’ve given absolutely everything I can. I’m fulfilled, I’m happy...I just know that physically I have nothing more to give, and that for me is success. Now I think it’s important that I get to enjoy the next phase of my life as Ash Barty the person, not Ash Barty the athlete.
Some life and career milestones, for the record:
1996: Born on 24-April in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
2011: Wins the Wimbledon girls singles final as a 15-year-old
2012: Still 15, she makes her Grand Slam main-draw debut at the Australian Open
2014: Aged 18, and ranked outside the top 200, she announces she's taking a break from tennis
"It was too much, too quickly for me...I wanted to experience life as a normal teenage girl, and have some normal experiences.
2015: Plays cricket for Brisbane Heat in the inaugural Women's Big Bash League season
2016: Refreshed after her 2-year break, Ash returns to tennis and starts her climb up the rankings
2017: Wins her first WTA title (the Malaysian Open), and finishes the year ranked in the top 20
2018: Wins her first senior Grand Slam title, taking out the US Open doubles (with Coco Vandewegh)
- Wins the French Open (Roland-Garros), becoming the first Australian champion since 1973
- Wins her next event, the Birmingham Classic, to become World No 1
- She would soon lose this ranking to Naomi Osaka, but only for a few weeks, before holding it until her retirement
- Wins the season-ending WTA Finals, and the largest winner's cheque (male or female) in tennis history
2020: Sits out most of the year due to COVID-19, but retains her No. 1 ranking.
- Wins Wimbledon, fulfilling her life-long dream, becoming the first Australian winner since Evonne Goolagong in 1980
- Wins the Australian Open, in what would end up being the final match of her career.
- As the first Australian singles champion (men's or women's) since 1978, this cements her national hero status
- Shocks the tennis world by announcing her retirement on 23-March, after 114 consecutive weeks at No.1
I'll leave some final words to others, like Russell Fuller of the BBC, who says "Her time at the top was too short for tennis - but not for her":
To lose a player like Barty...leaves a gaping hole...She has become the reference point for women's tennis, having carried herself with class and provided inspiration for indigenous communities. And Barty has charmed us with the grace of her truly beautiful game.
Or fellow competitor Petra Kvitova:
Ash, I have no words...actually you are showing your true class leaving tennis in this beautiful way.
Or former men's World No.1, Andy Murray, who summed up the general mood succinctly:
Happy for Ash Barty. Gutted for tennis. What a player.