Ash Barty retires: What next for Australian golden girl, tennis news 2022

Ash Barty’s bombshell retirement rocked the sporting community, but the decision left everyone questioning what she has planned next.

Ash Barty’s bombshell retirement is difficult to process.

This is an athlete at the top of her game — not only is she ranked No. 1 in the world by a considerable margin, but she’s the defending champion at Wimbledon and Melbourne Park.

Yet, at 25 years of age, she’s stepped away from the sport.

Earlier this month, the three-time major winner announced she was pulling out of big WTA tournaments in the United States and planned to take some time away from the tour. But nobody was expecting her break to be permanent.

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Barty explained her decision to retire in an emotional video uploaded to Instagram on Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time and I’ve had a lot of incredible moments in my career that have been pivotal moments,” she said.

“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 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.

“That for me just feels like the perfect way — my perfect way — to celebrate what an amazing journey my tennis career has been.”

But the question on everyone’s lips is — what’s next?

After a gruelling 2021 campaign, Barty would understandably be eager to enjoy some quality time with family and friends.

Last month, Barty revealed that she was hoping to get married to longtime partner Garry Kissick sometime this year as well.

But what’s next in store for Australia’s golden girl?

Like most Australians, Barty is passionate about several sports.

In October 2020, the Queenslander went viral after emphatically celebrating a goal during Richmond’s victory over Brisbane in a qualifying final the Gabba.

Barty presented Tigers captain Trent Cotchin coach Damien Hardwick with the McClelland Trophy after Richmond won the 2020 AFL grand final at the same venue.

Barty also loves her golf — she and Kissick first met at the Brookwater Golf and Country Club in 2016.

He father represented Australia as an amateur golfer in the 1980s, but decided not to pursue a professional career.

Barty won the Brookwater club’s women’s championship – her first ever competitive tournament – in 2020, and even caught the eye of golf icon Tiger Woods at an exhibition event in 2019.

“She’s got a great swing, are you kidding me?” Woods exclaimed after Barty lofted a wedge into the Yarra River.

Barty told Australian Gold Digest last year: “I always used to muck around in the backyard with whatever old clubs I could find.

“Golf has always been a sport that’s come quite naturally to me. I mean, even my mum was a very, very good golfer herself and her whole family loves to play. I guess if there was one sport that’s truly in the Barty genes, it’s probably golf, more so than tennis.

“It’s funny listening to other golfers suggest I could turn pro at golf if I committed to it. It was always something I joked about with my uncle when I used to muck around and play with him.

“He always said that he’d be my caddie on the LPGA Tour, but no, I think for me, two sports is enough. Tennis is obviously the focus and cricket was a bit of fun, but golf for me is a hobby.”

Some casual sporting fans may not be aware this isn’t the first time Barty stepped away from tennis.

Six years ago, the Queenslander took an indefinite break from the sport and signed with the Brisbane Heat for the inaugural season of the Women’s Big Bash League.

Barty picked up the sport quickly, cracking an unbeaten 63 from 60 balls in her second match for Brisbane’s Western Suburbs District Cricket Club before top-scoring in the final.

“She is a freak,” Heat coach Andy Richards told The Guardian in 2019.

“We had a chat and a coffee and went and hit some balls. She was a bowling machine, she hit 150 balls and probably mistimed five or six. She had never played before. She fitted into the squad very quickly and easily.”

Barty was the first Heat player to clear the boundary rope in the WBBL, smacking a six against the Melbourne Stars on her way to a quick-fire 39 off 27 balls in the season opener.

By her own admission, Barty did not have a traditional batting technique, but her “unorthodox” approach to the sport quickly paid dividends.

“I’m absolutely loving it,” she told in 2015.

“I’m really just soaking it all up and trying to enjoy it as much as I can.

“The girls have really looked after me. They embraced me straight and that made the transition very easy.

“At this stage I’m a batter, but I’d like to be able to contribute in other areas. I’m rolling the arm over a little in club, but at this stage I’m just working on my batting and trying to do as much as I can in the field.”

Barty’s love for cricket didn’t disappear after she returned to tennis in 2016 — at this year’s Australian Open, she was spotted performing a leg glance with her racquet while training on the practice courts of Melbourne Park.

While tennis stars endure a jam-packed yearly schedule, semi-professional cricketers only compete for six months of the year. The WBBL only lasts six weeks.

The Age’s Daniel Brettig tweeted: “Really hope this means Ash Barty is heading back to the WBBL. But for now just stand back and applaud a great person and athlete who has remained true to herself throughout — especially today!

“Numerous solo athletes pine for the camaraderie of team sports. Barty is clearly one of those. Those who have long and prolific individual careers hoovering up trophies do so because they’ve decided they don’t need that. Or at least not as much.”

Cricket reporter Dave Middleton posted: “When does the WBBL|08 contracting window open?”

Australian spinner Jess Jonassen tweeted: “Shocked and saddened by this news but what a legend! Plenty of exciting things in the future for sure. True inspiration to many … enjoy what’s next mate.”

Parody news website The Betoota Advocate penned an article headlined: “Ash Barty Sensationally Retired From Tennis To Pursue WBBL Comeback With Brisbane Heat.”

An Australian betting company has opened a market for Barty to return to cricket field at odds of $2.50.

However, a return to cricket for Barty may be nothing more than a pipe dream, or at the very best a couple of years away.

“Success for me is knowing that I’ve given absolutely everything, everything I can,” she said.

“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 OK, I’m OK 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.

“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.”

Originally published as What’s next for Australian golden girl Ash Barty?

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