World No. 1 Ash Barty has announced her shock retirement from professional tennis at the age of 25.
“Today is difficult and filled with emotion for me as I announce my retirement from tennis. I wasn’t sure how to share this news with you so I asked my good friend Casey Dellacqua to help me. 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. More to come tomorrow at my press conference," Barty wrote on a post she shared to her Instagram account.
It's the second time that the 25-year-old has retired from professional tennis, but this time the World No. 1 feels differently about stepping away from the game.
"I know I have done this before but in a very different feeling and I'm so grateful to everything that 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, chase other dreams and to put the racquets down," Barty said.
Barty's decision to retire has left the tennis world stunned. She has retired less than two months after winning the Australian Open - her third career grand slam singles title.
"I'm so happy and I'm so ready and I just know for me as a person, this is right," Barty said in a video she published to her Instagram account.
"It's something I've been thinking about for a long time. I've had a lot of incredible moments in my career that have been pivotal moments. Wimbledon last year changed a lot for me as a person and for me as an athlete. When you work so hard your whole life for one goal, to be able to win Wimbledon, which was my dream, the one true dream that I wanted in tennis, that really changed my perspective," Barty said.
"I just had that gut feeling after Wimbledon and I had spoken to my team quite a lot about it, there was just a little part of me that wasn't quite satisfied, wasn't quite fulfilled. And then came the challenge of the Australian Open. And I think that for me just feels like the most perfect way, my perfect way to celebrate what an amazing journey my tennis career has been as a person. This is what I want, I want to chase after some other dreams that I've always wanted to do. I've always had that really healthy balance but I'm really really excited."
"There was a perspective shift in me in this second phase of my career that my happiness wasn't dependent on the results. Success for me is knowing that I've given absolutely everything I can. I'm fulfilled, I'm happy and I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself. I said it to my team multiple times, I just don't have that in me anymore. I don't have the physical drive, the emotional want and everything it takes to challenge yourself at the very top level anymore. I just know that I'm absolutely spent. I know physically that I have nothing more to give. That for me is success. I have given absolutely everything I can to this beautiful sport of tennis. I'm really happy with that and for me, that is my success. I know that people may not understand it and thats okay, I'm okay with that because I know that for me, Ash Barty the person has so many dreams that she wants to chase after, that doesn't necessarily involve travelling the world, being away from my family, being away from my home which is where I've always wanted to be, its where I've grown up. I'll never ever, ever stop loving tennis. It'll always be a massive part of my life but now I think it's important that I get to enjoy the next phase of my life as Ash Barty the person, not as Ash Barty the athlete," Barty explained.