World No. 1 Ash Barty announced his retirement at the age of 25

Ash Barty surprisingly retired from tennis on Wednesday at the age of 25, while at No. 1 and less than two months after winning his third Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open.

“I'm so happy, and I'm so ready. I know right now, in my heart, for me as a person, it's right,” Bertie said, his voice shaking at times six minutes in. The video was posted on his Instagram account on Wednesday in Australia.

“It's time to chase other dreams,” said Bertie, who no longer feels compelled to do what he knows to be the best in tennis.

In the lead up to the Australian Open, Bertie announced her engagement to trainee golf professional Gary Kissick in November. The couple was 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 his decision to retire, which he announced during an informal interview with his former doubles partner Casey Delaqua. “I don't have the physical drive, the mental drive and what it takes to challenge myself. I'm spent.”

This is not the first time Bertie has stepped away from tennis: he became the Wimbledon junior champion in 2011 at the age of 15, boasting a promising professional career, but left the tour entirely in 2014 for almost two years, due to burnout, stress and the need to travel. .

He returned home to Australia and played professional cricket, then eventually picked up a racket again and returned to his other sport.

Bertie won singles major championships on three different surfaces — on clay at the 2019 French Open, on grass at Wimbledon last year and on the hard court at Melbourne Park in January, becoming the first Australian player to win the country's Grand Slam tournament in 44 years.

He has won 15 tour-level titles in singles and 12 in doubles since turning professional in 2010. He has spent 121 weeks at No. 1 in the rankings, including the last 114 in a row.

His announcement was all the more surprising from an on-court perspective given his recent success: Barty had won 25 of his last 26 matches and three of his past four events.

Only one other woman has walked away from the game while atop the WTA rankings: Justine Henin was No. 1 when she retired in May 2008.

In a statement released by the WTA, CEO Steve Simon called Barty the “ultimate competitor” and said she has “always led by example with the unwavering professionalism and sportsmanship she brings to every match.”

“We'll miss him,” Simon said.

During her 21-month sabbatical from tennis as a teenager, Bertie played cricket with the Brisbane Heat of the Women's Big Bash League. She returned to tennis in May 2016, playing the $50,000 ITF event in Eastbourne — winning three qualifying matches and three more in the main draw.

A year later, he was number 88; By late 2017, Barty was an established member of the top 20.

“I know I've done it before,” Bertie laughs in the retirement video, but with a very different feel. I am grateful for what tennis has given me. It gave me all my dreams, and more, but I know it's time for me to step away and chase other dreams and, yes, put down the rackets.”

She last played in 2020, losing in the semi-finals to Petra Kvitova in Doha in February; Bertie stayed home in Australia for the balance of the season when the global pandemic hit.

After six months in 2021 and five titles, including Wimbledon, Barty ended her season abruptly after losing to Shelby Rogers at the US Open.

“Last year Wimbledon changed a lot for me as a person and for me as an athlete,” Bertie said. “When you work so hard your whole life for one goal – to be able to win Wimbledon, which was my dream, the dream I wanted in tennis, it really changed my perspective.”

He described what he called a “gut feeling” after Wimbledon that maybe he was ready to move on, but he described himself as “absolutely full” at the time. His victory at the Australian Open marked another milestone, and Bertie said he was fully aware that “my happiness does not depend on the result.”

Alicia Molick, coach of Australia's Billie Jean King Cup team, said Barty's decision was “unusual, to retire at the top.”

“It's pretty bold, it's pretty noble,” Malik said. “What an athlete, what a trailblazer and what a role model.”

Andy Murray tweeted: “Happy for Ashburty, disappointed for tennis, what a player.”

Bertie's closing words, at least for now — he plans a media conference Thursday — came at the end of the video

“I will never, ever, stop loving tennis,” he said. “It will always be a huge part of my life but now I think it's important to enjoy the next phase of my life as an Ash Barty person, not an Ash Barty athlete.”

The news has stunned the sports world. Here are some of the top responses.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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