FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Australian Open - Women's Singles Final - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 29, 2022 Australia's Ashleigh Barty in action during the final against Danielle Collins of the U.S. REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake
March 24, 2022
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Ash Barty’s stunning decision to quit tennis at 25 and at the top of her game left the tennis world stunned but her coach Craig Tyzzer revealed the Australian was ready to bow out years ago just as her career was taking off.
Barty, who walked away from the sport in late-2014 and came back in 2016, made her Grand Slam breakthrough at the French Open in 2019, a watershed moment in the Queenslander’s career.
Tyzzer told reporters in Brisbane on Thursday that he had prepared a speech for Barty about winning at Roland Garros, about “how profound this was going to be and what it meant to her”.
“The first thing she said to me was, ‘Can I retire now?'”
“I sort of went, ‘Hang on, I’m not ready for that’.”
Tyzzer was therefore not in the least surprised that three-times Grand Slam champion Barty was thinking of hanging up the racquet after winning Wimbledon last year.
“It’s not a shock to me,” he said alongside Barty at a media conference in Brisbane.
“Ash does her own thing and when we started together she wanted to do it the way she wanted to do it. I think it’s the right time.
“I don’t think there’s anything left in the tank for her.”
World number one Barty bows out on top, her last match at the Australian Open where she ended the country’s 44-year wait for a home winner.
Tyzzer said he noted Barty had lost motivation as early as the Tokyo Olympics, where she crashed out of the singles but won a mixed doubles bronze for Australia.
“I sort of felt she’d climbed where she needed to get to, and it was going to be a hard slog to keep her involved,” he said.
Even getting Barty fired up for her tilt at the Australian Open was a challenge.
“The hardest thing was trying to motivate her to get a spark to go, ‘Hey, you need to be out there.’
“Because her tennis and her mindset — she was so relaxed and so easy-going with it all. It was almost like she didn’t care whether she won or lost, but she obviously did.
“I think the Australian summer was for everyone else and not for her.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)