‘I’m done’: Barty not tempted by tennis return

In a tennis year defined by high-profile retirements, Ash Barty has given her strongest indication yet that her shock to decision to quit at 25 is cast in stone.

Looking relaxed but maintaining a busy schedule to coincide with the release of her autobiography, dabbling in new business interests and a range of corporate speaking engagements, the former world No.1 has a firm message about persistent questions of one day returning to the grind of the tour.

“I’m done,” Barty said at Melbourne Park on Tuesday in her second trip back there since winning the Australian Open in January.

Back in Melbourne: Ash Barty returns to the scene of one of her greatest triumphs. Credit:Eddie Jim

This year Roger Federer, 41, was overwhelmed with emotion when playing his final professional match, while fellow superstar Serena Williams, having also eked past her 40th birthday, signalled her high-profile US Open appearance was part of “evolving” away from tennis.

Barty’s shock announcement to step away from the WTA tour – while holding the world No.1 ranking and as the reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champion – in March sent the country into a spin. The nation asked loudly: Why?

For an athlete who has always done things her way – Barty famously left tennis the first time as a teenager due to the stresses she was enduring – the three-time major winner was at peace with the call when it was revealed to the world via an Instagram interview with Casey Dellacqua.

Since then, Barty has finalised her memoir, My Dream Time, travelled extensively, married her long-time partner Garry Kissick in a private Queensland ceremony, continued to put the building blocks together on her own foundation and started establishing a tennis academy with former coaches Craig Tyzzer and Jason Stoltenberg.

Reminded that this year she had uttered the words “never say never” about staging a comeback, Barty’s reply was clear.


“I’m done … No, no, no,” she said.

Barty, 26, didn’t make it to Wimbledon in June and July where she would have been celebrated as the reigning champion. Though, the Queenslander says she’ll be at Melbourne Park in some capacity in January where, still celebrated as the first home-grown player to win an Australian Open singles crown since Chris O’Neil in 1978, she’ll be impossible to miss.

Barty, however, won’t be tempted to make a foray into the TV commentary box.

“It will be very different. Still working out what we’ll be doing, but we’ll be here for bibs and bobs,” she said.

In contrast to when she switched across to women’s cricket after first walking away from tennis, it’s a sharply different world for Barty now. Suggestions of again trying a different sport are fanciful.
It was speculated that Barty could turn back to cricket, play pro golf or, most amusingly, become a star of the turf.

“The jockey [idea and the meme that came out] was hilarious,” she said.

“Never. Never might be my new favourite word.”

A winner of three slam titles across three different surfaces, the stage of her life as a pro athlete is over.

“I was looking for myself. I was searching for stimulation [when I turned to cricket],” she said.

“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’s no more need for that searching because there’s a curiosity for what comes next, as opposed to finding what was missing.”

She speaks readily about her love of spending time with her nieces. A question about becoming a mother herself wasn’t immediately swatted away.

“I can’t answer that for you, I don’t know,” she said. “If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’ve got no control over that. We’ll see.”

Barty revealed that she has reached out to good friend and fellow Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, who is embroiled in a doping controversy after testing positive to the banned substance Roxadustat at the US Open.

Two-time grand slam champion Halep has vowed to clear her name and branded the news “the biggest shock of my life”.

“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 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.”

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