Photograph: Getty Images
The sudden retirement of Australian tennis star Ash Barty has caught the sporting world by surprise.
Amid the range of emotions all tennis lovers will be feeling following the news, let’s take a moment to reflect on some of Ash’s finest moments on the court.
Here are five of the best from the three-time major champion.
2021 Wimbledon Final – Barty def Pliskova 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3
It’s hard to go past the match that delivered Barty’s lifelong dream, the 2021 Wimbledon final against Karolina Pliskova. A red-hot start from Ash, which saw her amazingly win the first 14 points of the match, helped her to take the first set 6-3. The match began to tighten up as Pliskova found her range on the forehand. But the dream looked to be within reach as Barty served for the match at 6-5. However, the Czech broke Barty and then went on to clinch the tie-break 7-4 as the nervous energy continued to rise among all Barty supporters. Ash got out to a 3-0 lead in the third and held that gap throughout a tense 55-minute deciding set, taking out the most important set of her tennis life 6-3.
2022 Australian Open Final – Barty def Collins 6-3, 7-6 (2)
It was a feat that had not been achieved for 44 years, but earlier this year Barty became the first Australian to lift our Australian Open trophy since 1978. Barty was untouchable in the lead-up to the final. She didn’t drop a set and amazingly had only lost 21 games for the tournament. The final against American Danielle Collins looked to be following along a similar trend, Barty winning the first set 6-3 in 32 minutes. But suddenly Ash was faced with her first challenge of the tournament, down 5-1 in the second set. But in one of the great comeback sets of her career, Barty stormed back to push the set into a tie-break and then stepped it up again, dominating the breaker, winning it 7-2 to lift the trophy.
2019 French Open Semi-Final – Barty def Anisimova 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3
Barty’s breakthrough grand slam came at the 2019 French Open, enjoying a comfortable 6-1, 6-3 victory in the final over Marketa Vondrousova. But it was in the semi-final against rising star Amanda Anisimova where Ash was pushed all the way. In a match full of momentum swings, Barty let go of a 5-0 first set lead to lose it in a tie-break. Anisimova looked to be riding a wave of unstoppable momentum as she raced to a 3-0 lead in the second, before Barty showed her star quality, winning the next six games to claim the second. Barty delivered in the third set, claiming it 6-3, to advance into the final of what would eventually be her maiden grand slam victory.
2019 WTA Tour Finals Final – Barty def Svitolina 6-4, 6-3
2019 was a rich year for Barty, capping her French Open crown with a WTA Tour Finals triumph at the end of the year. As the best players in the world battled it out, Barty made her way to the final to meet defending champion Elena Svitolina. Barty had never beaten Svitolina over five attempts, her most recent of which had been an epic 3 hours and 12 minutes 7-6 (10-8), 5-7, 6-4 defeat at Indian Wells earlier in the year. However, Barty turned the tables on the Ukrainian claiming a 6-4, 6-3 victory, delivering her first WTA Tour Final title as well as seeing her end the year as the number one player in the world.
2017 Cincinnati Open Round 2 – Barty def V. Williams 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
Having returned to tennis in 2016, Barty was working her way back up the rankings as she entered the 2017 Cincinnati Open, which proved the stage for her first top 10 scalp. Barty defeated Venus Williams, ranked 9 at the time, in the second round to stake her claim as one of the rising stars in the game. Barty prevailed in three sets 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 against one of the biggest names on the women’s circuit, who reached the final of the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2017. Barty moved up to number 42 in the world and became Australia’s number one ranked woman in the process.