Ash Barty has lifted the lid on her life in retirement, nearly one year on from her historic triumph at the Australian Open. Barty became the first Aussie in 44 years to win the Australian Open last January, before shocking the tennis world in March when she announced her retirement.
Nearly one year on from the famous victory at Melbourne Park, Barty says she has absolutely no regrets about her decision to walk away from the sport she loves. Speaking to the New York Times, the 26-year-old said she's been 'surprised' about how comfortable and content she is in retirement.
“To be honest, I think what has surprised me most is how comfortable I’ve been,” she said. “I think there was probably a normal fear or uncertainty in not knowing what my life would look like after tennis after being so focused.
“I was a bit unsure how I would deal with that because I am a person who likes to be organised. There was probably a little bit of fear in that, but overall, that hasn’t been an issue, a concern or a worry.
“What’s been surprising in a good way is that I’ve slipped quite seamlessly into this life that’s just like everyone else. Which is kind of always what I wanted.”
The New York Times has also revealed how Barty will stay involved in tennis by setting up an academy for young players alongside former coaches Craig Tyzzer and Jason Stoltenberg. “The more time I’ve had to sit and think and absorb this year, I think it is never in the sense of me competing professionally again,” Barty said.
“But I’ll never not be involved in this sport. So I think that’s where I’ll always get my tennis fix, that taste of the sport that gave me so much.”
Barty was recently awarded the prestigious Don Award by the Australian Sport Hall of Fame, which recognises the athlete or team who has provided the most inspiration over the past 12 months. Named in recognition of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame's inaugural inductee Sir Donald Bradman, the gong is considered the highest honour in Australian sport.
Barty, who also won the Don Award in 2019, became just the third athlete to claim the gong more than once. She joined Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Sally Pearson (2012 and 2014) and Olympic champion pole vaulter Steve Hooker (2008 and 2009).
Barty also won the Newcombe Medal for a record fifth time last month - the highest honour in Australian tennis. Speaking at the award ceremony, she said: "I stand here very proudly knowing that I absolutely fulfilled every ounce that I could to this to this beautiful sport and it brought me so much more than I could have ever dreamed. It's obviously an amazing way to cap off what has been an incredible journey."
Ash Barty backs Ajla Tomljanovic at Australian Open
Meanwhile, Barty is backing Australia's new women's No.1 Ajla Tomljanovic to rise to the occasion and challenge for Australian Open glory. Barty's retirement catapulted Tomljanovic into the top rank for Aussie women, and she has since risen to 33 in the world after a stellar year in 2022.
Tomljanovic became the first Aussie female since the Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1979 to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open in a single season, and sensationally ended Serena Williams' career in New York. The 29-year-old also guided Australia to the final of the Billie Jean King Cup.
If she can remain at No.33 by the time the Australian Open seeing is finalised, she will secure an all-important top-32 seed due to Simona Halep's absence. According to Barty, it would be the least she deserves.
"She's had an exceptional year and deserves to be higher-ranked than she is at the moment," Barty recently told AAP. "But you can't do anything about that situation.
"It is what it is and what's held her in really good stead is that she's accepted that and she's getting better and better and better. A couple of big quarter-finals in slams this year, she played some exceptional tennis and she's someone that Aussies can be very proud of."
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