Former Australian world No.1 tennis player Ashleigh Barty has said she has no intention of coming out of retirement, after she recently returned to the Melbourne Park — the venue of her last Grand Slam singles title this year — for a promotional activity.
Barty had stunned the tennis world and her legion of fans in March this year by announcing her retirement one month shy of her 26th birthday.
Barty won the French Open in 2019, the Wimbledon in 2021 and Australian Open earlier this year, and her reign of 114 consecutive weeks at No.1 continues to be the fourth-longest streak in the history of the WTA Tour, behind Germany’s Steffi Graf (186 weeks), American stalwart Serena Williams (186) and Czechoslovakian-American great Martina Navratilova (156). Barty’s 121 total weeks as the top-ranked player are No.7 in the all-time list.
However, in an interaction with The Age, the 26-year-old said, “I’m done (with professional tennis).
“I was searching for other things, but now I don’t need that. Now I’ve kind of probably understood and realised that I’ve had an extremely full, fulfilling incredible journey… in my professional career and now it’s time to close that chapter.”
There have been rumours that Barty might decide to reverse her retirement decision, especially after she famously left tennis the first time as a teenager due to the stresses she was enduring.
Reminded that this year she had said “never say never” about staging a comeback, Barty’s reply was “Never!”, according to the report. “I’m done … No, no, no,” she added.
Barty also said she doesn’t see herself in the commentary box. “It will be very different.”
There have been several outrageous rumours linking Barty to returning to play cricket or pro golf or, maybe even become a jockey.
“The jockey (idea) was hilarious,” she said. “Never. Never might be my new favourite word,” she added. Talking about her brief stint with cricket, she said, “I was looking for myself. I was searching for stimulation (when I turned to cricket). There’s no more need for that searching because there’s a curiosity for what comes next, as opposed to finding what was missing.”
Barty said she was in touch with good friend and fellow Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, who is in the midst of a doping controversy after testing positive to the banned substance at the US Open.
“Simona is an incredible friend of mine,” said Barty. “She is one of the most honest people ever, but obviously, I can’t comment. All I can say as a person, Simo (Simona) is one of the best. It’s hard to say anything else. I’ve spoken to her. I just wanted to check in with her as a person.”