Australia's world number one Ashleigh Barty gestures during her retirement announcement in Brisbane, Australia, in this still image obtained from an undated social media video. Ash Barty/via REUTERS
March 24, 2022
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Ash Barty said on Thursday there was no perfect time to bow out of tennis but that claiming the Australian Open championship in front of home fans was the ideal finish to her career.
Speaking to reporters in Brisbane a day after announcing her shock decision to retire, three-times Grand Slam winner Barty said she had no regrets about walking away from the sport at the age of 25 and at the top of the world rankings.
“There was this beautiful challenge of trying to play the Australian Open and trying to win an Australian Open, which was always another goal of mine, and to do that as a team and to do that with the people that meant so much to me was incredible,” she said.
“There is no perfect way, there is no perfect timing, but this was our perfect way and it was a great finish.
“That crowd, the night, the final of the Australian Open, was like nothing I have ever played in front of before and it was so much fun to enjoy that with them as well as my team.”
Barty was cagey about her future plans but said she would savour more time with family and that she wanted contribute more to helping young Indigenous Australians in sports.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to give Indigenous youth, Aboriginal youth around our nation, more opportunity to get into the sport,” said Barty, the second Indigenous Australian to win a Grand Slam title.
“That’s something that we’ll work on down the track but I am excited to spend more time in that space.”
Barty confirmed she would take herself off the WTA rankings, which will be updated after the Miami Open finishes this weekend.
World number two Iga Swiatek of Poland is in line to take the top ranking.
“If it is Iga, there’s no better person,” said Barty. “She thoroughly deserves it and I hope she can take it and still be her, do it her own way.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)