The best tennis player in the world unexpectedly retired
When 25-year-old Australian Ashley Barty won her home Slam, the Australian Open, in January this year, many fans and experts agreed that in the near future, and perhaps as early as this season, the tennis player will make a “Career Slam”. That is, she will win at least once in all four majors. The only thing she needed to complete her collection was the US Open. But alas! It will not be.
As it was early Wednesday morning in Moscow, world number one Ashley Barty, who is skipping the currently ongoing WTA-1000 tournament in Miami, abruptly announced on her social media accounts that she was ending her career. “I’ve been playing tennis since I was young. And I already took a long break when I was 18 – then I just wanted to live a normal teenage life and generally enjoy a normal life. Now tennis has fulfilled all my dreams and more. I think now is the right time to leave the rackets behind and try to achieve other goals.
The WTA press office immediately responded movingly to Barty’s statement, “To all the young girls who look up to you, all the people you inspire, your love of the game – thank you, Ashley, for the incredible mark you’ve left on and off the court and in our hearts.” The Australian has won 15 titles in her career, including three at Grand Slam tournaments – Roland Garros 2019, Wimbledon 2021, Australian Open 2022.
A couple of weeks after her victory at Roland Garros-2019, the Australian became the 27th-ranked world number one since the WTA rankings were introduced. Ashley stayed at the top for seven weeks, then was moved by Naomi Osaka of Japan for four weeks, and on September 9, 2019, Barty recaptured the lead, which she holds to this day. In total, Ashley Barty leads the women’s rankings for the 120th week. This is the seventh highest total in history. Only Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, Chris Evert, Martina Hingis and Monica Seles have held the number one ranking longer.
WTA ranking leaders by number of weeks spent at the top:
- Steffi Graf – 377 weeks
- Martina Navratilova – 332
- Serena Williams – 319
- Chris Evert – 260
- Martina Hingis – 209
- Monica Seles – 178
- Ashley Barty – 120
- Justine Henin – 117
This is the second time in history that a reigning world number one in the prime of her career has suddenly retired. It happened for the first time in women’s tennis in 2008, when Justine Henin, a Belgian world ranking leader, announced her retirement. Although Hénin returned to the tour for a while afterwards.
In general, Ashley came to fame in the tennis world early. She won the 2011 Junior Wimbledon when she was 15 years old. And at 16-17, she was a Slams doubles finalist three times during the 2013 season. Constant travel and long absences from home were then the main reason for her decision to take a break from her career. After the 2014 US Open, when Ashley was just 18 years old, she stopped playing. Both family and team all supported the Australian in this decision. For a while she lived a normal life – going fishing, building a house, and then she got involved in cricket and achieved decent success in this game. She returned to tennis in January 2016. Ashley started with ITF tournaments, and a year later she was in the top 20. Who knows, maybe now Barty will change her mind and come back after a while.