A stunning announcement shocked the tennis world a couple of weeks ago, as it was announced that world number one, Ashleigh Barty, would be retiring from the sport immediately. The announcement from the 25-year-old sent shockwaves around the world of sport, as the decision came out of the blue, and was from a player right at the top of her game.
Barty Retires After She Had ‘Given Everything’
The Australian superstar announced her retirement in March, as she revealed that she had given everything to the sport that she loved. She also revealed that she was looking to give back to the community, and contribute in more ways now that she has the extra time. One area that she especially showed an interest in during her statement was helping to provide a better pathway for Indigenous Australians into tennis from a young age.
Many experts have already begun to speculate as to what could be next for Barty, as she has previously shown just how talented she is across a number of sports. She played in the inaugural season of the Women’s Big Bash between 2015 and 2016 after taking a break from tennis in 2014. She has also excelled in both Australian Rules Football and golf during her career, and both could potentially be sports that she would be open to revisiting.
Barty Hands Over Number One Status
When Barty returned to tennis in 2016, many sports bettors would have been wary of betting on the Aussie. However, those doubts were ruthlessly answered by the best female player on the planet, as she stormed to the top of the world rankings for the first time in 2019. In fact, when she retired, she was the number one player on the female circuit every week except for four weeks between 2019 and 2023.
Barty holds the record for the fourth-longest time spent as world number one, as she topped the ranking for a total of 114 weeks; excluding the period when rankings were frozen for five months in 2020 due to COVID-19. Her retirement means that Iga Swiatek now moves to the top of the rankings after winning her second-round tie at the Miami Open against Viktorija Golubic.
Aussie Dominates Grand Slams
When Barty returned to tennis in 2016, the aim would have been to win a Grand Slam title. However, that feat looked extremely challenging to see at that time with the competition in the female division being intense. Barty certainly enjoyed a renaissance when returning to the court though, and rose to a career-high rating of 17th after winning her first-ever WTA title in the form of the Malaysian Open. She made her first mark in a Grand Slam in late 2018, as she won the US Open doubles title, and a first singles title wouldn’t be far behind.
Barty would finally land her first Grand Slam title as a singles star in 2019, as she looked extremely dominant when winning the French Open. She dropped just one set in the final three rounds and routinely saw off Marketa Vondrousova in the final 6-1, 6-3. However, her season would eventually fizzle out, as she was knocked out in the fourth round of both Wimbledon and the US Open. Signs that a second Grand Slam title could be on the horizon were evident when she reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open before the tennis world went into lockdown after the outbreak of COVID-19.
Despite winning the singles title at the French Open and the doubles gold at the US Open, we never really saw the best of Barty at the biggest Grand Slam of the season until 2021. Throughout Wimbledon, in that year she spoke about her desire to win the top prize, as it was something that she dreamed about from an early age.
In truth, the Aussie looked unshakable throughout that tournament and didn’t drop a set after the first round until her final showdown with Karolina Pliskova. She would eventually show her champion mentality and come through with a 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 victory against the eighth seed. In doing so, she made more history by becoming the first female Aussie to win at Wimbledon since Evonne Goolagong Crawley in 1980.
Final Grand Slam Success
In between Wimbledon and the Australian Open, Barty would represent Australia at the 2020 Olympics. While she wasn’t able to capture individual gold, she did win a bronze medal in the mixed doubles.
Very few would have predicted at the time that this would be the final time that we would see Barty on the court, as she looked extremely focused on the challenge in front of her. The Australian’s last appearance on the court came in the final against Danielle Collins, as she won 6-3, 7-6. The victory also saw her become the eighth woman in the Open Era to win the top prizes at Wimbledon, as well as the French Open and Australian Open.