A Legacy of Broken Records: What Ash Barty Might Do Next

why did ash barty retire

World number one tennis star Ash Barty shocked the sporting world yesterday by abruptly announcing that she would be retiring from the sport at the age of just 25.

Barty is fresh from her Australian Open win, the third of her storied career, yet made the announcement via social media in a lengthy video interview yesterday with close friend and fellow athlete, Casey Dellacqua.

It was not something that anyone was expecting and, indeed, she preempted our lack of understanding in the video by saying that she’s “okay” with the fact that most of us may not get why someone with such potential would retire now.

Barty has always been regarded as something of a polymath. While tennis is in her DNA – she’s been playing since she was a toddler – she has never appeared comfortable defining herself by one thing or one goal.

In the sporting world, it has long been suspected that she would be the kind of person to retire early, although no one thought it would be at such a young age. Unlike some of the other legends in her field, notably Rafael Nadal, who is ten years older than Barty, and Serena Williams, who is about to celebrate her 40th birthday, Barty has always tempered her ambition with perspective.

With her mysterious desire to “chase other dreams,” the world is watching and waiting to see what Barty will do next. Here’s a quick look back at just how far the Queenslander has come and what’s in store for her in the future.

Why Did Ash Barty Quit Tennis?

Ash Barty grew up in Ipswich, just outside of Brisbane, has two older sisters, and has been a sports fanatic for as long as she’s been able to kick a ball or hold a racket. She began training in the sport that she would soon become famous for at just four years old, but is also an accomplished cricket player and golfer.

By 14, she was competing in Junior Grand Slams around the world and already attracting attention. She became known as one of the great doubles players before the age of 17 and was reaching Grand Slam finals a year later.

Then, she quit.

At the age of 18, she decided to move back to Queensland and play cricket instead. She mentioned at the time that it would simply be a break, and that tennis was not what she needed to be doing at the moment.

She was signed by the Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash League, craving the camaraderie and support of a team sport.

Returning in 2016, she climbed through the ranks of the sport, breaking into the top 10 in the world rankings in 2019 before claiming world number 1 in the same year. She is the second Aussie female to ever do this, after Evonne Goolagong Carley.

She’s basically stayed at the top since then, defending her title through several losses to Naomi Osaka.

All of this shows a woman who is driven but self-reflective. While it’s easy to pick through her career and try to fund hints as to what she’s thinking and what she plans to do next, the biggest indicator should come from the woman herself.

Barty has battled a number of injuries throughout her career, putting her body on the line for the game. She’s “absolutely spent” she said yesterday.

“Physically I have nothing left to give.”

BBC Sport tennis analyst Russell Fuller has said that we should probably believe her. Her primary goal in life was to win at Wimbledon and she did that last year. She has said that she had planned to announce her retirement afterwards, but that a win on home soil was too much to pass up.

Now, she’s done what she came to do and she’s happy to let someone else take the court.

How Much is Ash Barty Worth?

When Barty moved to WBBL in 2016, she noted that the lack of funding – chronic in women’s sport – wasn’t an issue for her. She was simply thankful to be able to pay professional sport for a living.

That being said, she is one of the most highly paid female athletes of all time. Her 2019 WTA Finals win alone netted her US $4.42 million, the biggest prize pot ever paid to a tennis player.

As of this year, her total net worth is likely to be around $62.5 million, made up of $42 million in prize money across her 11-year career as well as $19.9 million in sponsorship deals and endorsements.

This would make her the wealthiest tennis player of all time, beating out those who have been in the game for much longer.

What’s Next for Ash Barty?

Two weeks ago, Barty spoke to Sunrise in which she spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future.

“At the end of last year, as I always do on December 31, I typically write down my short term and long term goals,” she said.

“We’ve ticked a couple of those off, but I promise you there’s still a few of those that we’re chasing.”

When asked what those goals were, Barty simply replied: “I won’t tell you that, that will ruin the surprise!”

As we now know just what that surprise was, prior comments may be able to indicate what she plans to do next.

Eagle-eyed journalists at The Mirror have spotted what they believe to be a clue in a post-match interview following her 2020 Australian Open semi-final loss to Sofia Kenin.

Taking the stage with her newly-born niece, Olivia, Barty made mention of the fact that “this is what life is all about,” seemingly un-phased by her recent loss.

Many online have already been speculating that the recently-engaged Barty could be stepping away from professional sport in order to have a baby – she has however denied this, although not explicitly.

Ash Barty Press Conference

Barty fronted the media on Thursday in Brisbane to give us a little bit more of an understanding as to why she’s decided to leave the game.

“After Wimbledon, my perspective changed a lot and there was this beautiful challenge of trying to play the Australian Open and trying to win an Australian Open which was always another goal of mine,” she said.

“To do that as a team and to do that with the people that meant so much to me was incredible so it was just – there is no perfect way, there is no perfect timing but this was our perfect way, and it was a great finish.

Addressing rumours that she might be pregnant, Barty said that she’s “an open book.”

“I’m not hiding anything, I’ve got no secrets,” she said.

Barty’s long-time coach, Craig Tizzy, has said that now is the right time for her to retire and that it’s been something she has been planning since her Wimbledon Grand Slam win in 2020.

“I’d actually prepared this really – when we went down on court together, the first time I saw her, this speech about how profound this was gonna be, and what it meant to her,” he said.

“The first thing she said to me was, ‘Can I retire now?’ I sort of went, ‘Hang on, I’m not ready for that’.

“Yeah, look it’s not a shock to me”.

She said that she welcomes the next chapter in her life and that she’s looking forward to getting back to doing the “homebody” thing that she enjoys.

“I have always been a homebody and this is where I retired, just where I got my energy from,” she said.

“But I’m really excited to reacquaint myself with my mum and dad and sisters and nieces and nephews and spend quality time with them as a person.

“Like I said, a new chapter for Garry and I and – yeah, it’s gonna be a lot of fun”.

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