Australian tennis player Ash Barty has announced her retirement from professional tennis at the age of 25. Barty is the current world number 1, and has won 23 singles titles during her career. In a statement on social media, Barty said that she was “ready for the next chapter” and thanked her fans for their support. She added that she was looking forward to spending time with her family and exploring other opportunities.
Barty, who became the first Australian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title in 43 years when she triumphed at the French Open last year, said the time was right to move on.
“It’s been a privilege and a dream come true to play tennis professionally, but I believe this is the right time for me to retire,” she said in a statement. Barty said she would continue to play Fed Cup for Australia and hoped to win more titles in that competition.
The decision comes as a big surprise, with Barty having recently ascended to the top of the world rankings and looking in good form ahead of this year’s Wimbledon tournament.
In an emotional press conference following her Australian Open victory, Barty had spoken of her love for the sport and her desire to win more Grand Slam titles. “I want to be the best that I can be, and I want to continue to push myself and my team,” she said at the time.
“After careful thought and consideration, I have decided that this is the right time to retire from professional tennis,” Barty wrote. “I have loved every minute of my career and I am so grateful for the opportunities and experiences that it has given me.”
Barty went on to say that she is looking forward to spending more time with her family and friends, as well as exploring new opportunities outside of tennis. She also thanked her team for their support over the years.
“I would like to thank my team, coaches, family and friends for their support throughout my career. I also want to thank the fans for their amazing support. I am so blessed to have been able to achieve my dreams and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Barty’s retirement will leave a big hole in the women’s tennis tour, with Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova among those who have already paid tribute to the young Australian.
Williams tweeted that Barty was “one of the most talented and kind people I know. You will be missed on tour but never forgotten!”
Sharapova praised Barty for being an “amazing player and competitor.” “It was an honor to know you and compete against you. Wishing you all the best in your next chapter,” she wrote on Twitter.
Barty’s retirement comes as a surprise, as she had been in excellent form recently and was expected to challenge for more Grand Slam titles in the future. Nevertheless, she will go down as one of the greatest players of her generation, and her achievements in tennis will be remembered for many years to come.