Wow. This is definitely worthy of an emergency post as the world number one Ash Barty announced her immediate retirement from tennis. Barty posted an emotional interview with Casey Dellacqua on her Instagram page on Wednesday. I woke up to the e-mail notification of the WTA statement on my phone and couldn’t process the information. My instant reaction was no! No! Nooo!
I’m still struggling to process to be honest as it was such a shock. I think Andy Murray’s tweet sums up it pretty well.
Selfishly, I am sad and I think it’s a huge loss for the sport. Barty was my favourite active player! I just loved the way she played. The backhand slice, the forehand, constructing points and playing them on her own terms. A tactical genius. The serve and how she proved it doesn’t matter how tall you are, you can still have a mean serve! That’s inspiring to me. Most importantly, it was the way she carried herself on and off the court, and the respect she held for her fellow players and that they clearly had for her which is clear from the outpouring of messages on social media.
As the news sinks in (it’s been on my mind all day) i’m going from the initial sadness and disappointment to feeling content because it’s clear from the video that this is the right decision for Barty. Ash has always done things her own way such as when she stepped away from the sport to prioritise her mental health. I don’t want this to come across as patronising but I think she is brave? Ash has always been on her own path, focusing on what is right for her, and has never taken any notice of what anyone might think. It’s pretty inspiring.
My favourite memories of Ash Barty. Definitely winning Wimbledon last year. The fact it came exactly 50 years after Evonne and that she was wearing an outfit in tribute. That Ash had stated very publicly that Wimbledon was the one she wanted to win. Also, she came into the tournament with a huge injury cloud, not even knowing if she was fit to compete. Her reaction to winning just showed how much it meant to her and I was so happy watching.
I’m grateful that I got to watch her live on the grass at Wimbledon, Eastbourne and Birmingham. I remember watching Ash at Birmingham in her first match after she won the French Open against Donna Vekic. I didn’t want the match to end because I just enjoyed watching her play! My favourite live Ash match was at the 2018 Australian Open, a wild one with Aryna Sabalenka before they had reached their peaks. Great memories.
And then one of my more obscure memories that came to me today was from Eastbourne in 2017, not long after she returned to the tour. Ash was in the doubles final with Casey Dellacqua. It was the final day and she was out practising on one of the courts behind Centre with few people watching. I just remember watching and taking some pictures. Ironically the picture below is the topspin backhand but she was practising slices too 🙂. It’s amazing how Ash’s career unfolded from there on.
All the best in whatever you do next, Ash. Thanks for all the memories and you will be sorely missed on the tour. A superstar 😎.