Mar 23, 2022 - Sports

Tennis star Ash Barty goes out on top

Ash Barty waves to the crowd after a match.

Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Ash Barty shocked the sports world late Tuesday night (Wednesday in Australia), announcing her retirement from tennis at age 25.

State of play: Barty has held the No. 1 ranking for 114 consecutive weeks, the fourth-longest streak in WTA history. She's the reigning champion of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open, which she won less than two months ago.

What she's saying: "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," said Barty in a six-minute video posted on Instagram.

  • "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."
  • "I'm so grateful to everything that tennis has given me. ... But now I think it's important I get to enjoy the next phase of my life as Ash Barty the person, not Ash Barty the athlete."

The backdrop: This isn't the first time Barty has walked away from tennis. After a promising junior career, she left the tour for nearly two years in 2014 because of burnout and played professional cricket in her native Australia.

  • She also took an extended hiatus in 2020, remaining in Australia during the pandemic instead of playing the U.S. Open and French Open.
  • She used that time to enjoy other sports, even winning a local golf tournament with a swing that impressed the pros. That's led to speculation that she could pursue a golf career in the future.

Of note: Justine Henin is the only other woman to retire from tennis while atop the rankings. She did so in 2008, also at age 25, before coming back two years later and then stepping away for good in 2011.

The big picture: "The lucrative prize money (including equal pay at Grand Slam events) that Billie Jean King, Venus Williams and others fought for gave women like Barty the agency to retire on their terms," notes WSJ's Rachel Bachman. Barty's career earnings: $23,829,071.

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