Ashleigh Barty has shocked the sports world by quitting tennis.
Barty announced her retirement on her social media platforms on Wednesday despite being the current No. 1 in the world.
“Today is difficult and filled with emotion for me as I announce my retirement from tennis,” Barty wrote on Instagram.
“I wasn’t sure how to share this news with you, so I asked my good friend @caseydellacqua (former player turned commentator 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 we created together.
“I know that I am spent; physically I don’t have anything more to give.
“I have given everything I can to this beautiful sport … and I’m really happy with that. For me, that is my success.
“I don’t have that in me anymore – I don’t have the physical drive, the emotional want.”
Barty, who has won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the French Open, has reached the summit of every mountain she wanted to climb in her career and has retired at the peak, having been the number one player for the past two years.
Barty’s Australian Open success in January was the icing on the cake after she won Wimbledon last year.
Following her success in Melbourne, Barty withdrew from Indian Wells and the Miami Open citing* “a need for ongoing recovery after winning the Australian Open”.
Her story will remain one of the greatest in Australian sport as the girl who left the game exhausted and played cricket for a summer before returning to win three majors.
“Ash Barty, with her signature* backhand slice complemented* by being the ultimate competitor, has always led by example through unwavering* professionalism and sportsmanship she brought to every match,” said Women’s Tennis Association CEO Steve Simon in a statement released shortly after the announcement.
“She has clearly established herself as one of the great champions of the WTA. We wish Ash the best and know she will continue to be a great ambassador* of the sport.”
ASH BARTY’S ANNOUNCEMENT IN FULL
ASH BARTY: “I will be retiring from tennis. It’s the first time I’ve actually said that out loud and yeah, it’s hard to say.
“But I’m so happy and I’m so ready and I just know at the moment in my heart, for me as a person, this is right.
“I know I’ve done this before, but (with) a very different feeling.
“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 and chase other dreams. And to put the racquets down.”
CASEY DELLACQUA: Why now?
ASH BARTY: “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. And 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, and I’ve been able to share that with so many incredible people.
“But to be able to win Wimbledon, which was my dream – the one true dream that I wanted in tennis – that really changed my perspective.
“I just had that gut feeling after Wimbledon and 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 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.”
CASEY DELLACQUA: Hard for a lot of people to understand. You’re probably one of the most marketable* athletes in the world. How difficult was it to come to this decision?
ASH BARTY: “There was a perspective shift in me in the 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, 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 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 am spent. I just know physically I have nothing more to give and that, for me, is success.
“I’ve given absolutely everything I can to this beautiful sport of tennis and I’m really happy with that.
“I know that people may not understand it. And that’s 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 don’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.
“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 and not Ash Barty the athlete.
“It was hard but it’s right and I know that brought me lots of comfort knowing that this is right for me.”
- citing: referring to, mentioning, pointing out by way of example, evidence or proof
- signature: something for which an individual is particularly known
- complemented: helped make something or someone more complete or effective:
- unwavering: steady, resolute, resolved
- ambassador: person who represents a particular organisation, group, activity, or brand
- pivotal: very important, critical, crucial, often significant because other things depend on it
- marketable: can be marketed and sold, attractive to others, sought after, in demand
- perspective: outlook, point of view, position
- What is Ash Barty’s current world ranking?
- Which major Open titles has Barty won?
- What was “the one true dream” Barty wanted in tennis?
- What was Barty’s “perspective shift” in the second half of her tennis career?
- Which major title did Barty win in January this year?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Ask Ash to stay
“Just one more game, Ash, please!”
Write a letter to Ash that starts with this sentence. Make your letter as convincing as you can.
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity.
Curriculum Links: English; Health and Physical Education
What makes Ash Barty a great role model for kids? Use the information in the story to help you to write paragraphs or create a poster that answers this question.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Personal and Social Capability; Health and Physical Education
Farewell and thank you, Ash!
As we farewell another great athlete from their chosen sport, we hope it’s not the last we see of them. Write a speech to Ash (or another sporting great) thanking them for being a role model to young athletes around the world. Imagine you are giving this speech at a very important occasion honouring your chosen sportsperson for their contribution. The event will be televised to millions of viewers around the world.
Use your VCOP skills to create voice in the piece so we can hear your passion, gratitude and respect to whomever you are writing to. Read the speech aloud to hear how it sounds and if possible deliver it in front of your class, imagining you are centrestage at the event.