Aged just 25, world No.1 Ash Barty has announced her shock retirement from tennis.
The reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, who hasn’t played since breaking the 44-year local title drought at Melbourne Park in January, posted the news on social media on Wednesday.
“Today is difficult and filled with emotion for me as I announce my retirement from tennis,” Barty said in an interview with close friend Casey Dellacqua, 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.”
It’s the second time Barty has walked away from tennis. The three-time grand slam champion took a 16-month sabbatical after a first-round loss at the 2014 US Open.
But, unlike then when she was a homesick teenager, this time Barty says she’s quitting for good.
“I will be retiring from tennis. It’s the first time I’ve said it out loud and it’s hard to say but I’m so happy and so ready,” she said.
“I just know at the moment in my heart for me as a person this is right.
“I’ve done this before but it’s a very different feeling.
“I’m so grateful for everything tennis has given me.
“It’s given me all of my dreams plus more but I know that the time is right now for me to step away and chase other dreams and to put the racquets down.”
Last time she stopped playing, Barty played professional cricket for the Brisbane Heat in the WBBL.
The sporting super talent could conceivably pursue a professional golf career next.
A four-marker, Barty won the A-grade club championship two years ago at Brisbane’s Brookwater Golf Club, where she met her now-fiance and PGA trainee pro Gary Kissick.
Both Barty’s parents were state amateur golf representatives.
Whatever she pursues, Barty’s tennis legacy is secure.
Two weeks after winning the French Open in 2019, Barty became the first Australian woman to reach world No.1 since her mentor and Indigenous idol Evonne Goolagong 43 years earlier.
She followed that up with victory at the 2019 WTA Finals in Shenzhen, in doing so pocketing $US6.4 million ($8.6 million) – the biggest cheque in tennis history.
Her crowning glory came last year at Wimbledon before Barty defied intense pressure and expectations from home fans to win the Australian Open.
That was the Queenslander’s 15th career title – and seemingly last.
Barty leaves the sport having held the top ranking for 116 weeks, the eighth-longest tenure in history behind only all-time greats Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, Chris Evert, Martina Hingis, Monica Seles and Justine Henin.