Ash Barty twist after Australian Open rocked by spate of withdrawals

The Aussie superstar won't be in action at Melbourne Park this year, leading a list of high-profile absences.

Ash Barty, pictured here at the United Cup with Iga Swiatek.
Ash Barty made a recent appearance at the United Cup and posed for photos with Iga Swiatek. Image: Getty

When Ash Barty announced her shock retirement from tennis at the age of 25 last March, she couldn't have expected that she'd top a huge list of stars missing from the Australian Open in 2023. The Queenslander became the first Aussie to win the Australian Open in 44 years last year after beating Danielle Collins in the final.

But her retirement has resulted in a massive blow for organisers, who are unlikely to be able to replicate the same frenzy that was caused by her incredible triumph. Along with Barty, some of the biggest names in world tennis will be absent when the Australian Open gets underway at Melbourne Park on January 16. Here's a look at some of the big names missing:

Ash Barty

The 26-year-old, who recently announced she's expecting her first baby with husband Garry Kissick, won't be in action on the court in 2023. However fans will still see her around Melbourne Park after she agreed to continue her mentoring role with rising prodigy Olivia Gadecki.

Gadecki told AAP at the United Cup that Barty would be in her camp as she makes her grand slam debut. "I've been really fortunate to always be able to contact her if I have any questions or if I need advice, she's always been there for me," Gadecki said. "The best part is she just treats me like a normal person and we can relate in that regard and off court is just as important as on court."

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Barty made a rare appearance at the tennis at the United Cup in Brisbane, posing for photos with World No.1 Iga Swiatek. The Polish star has enjoyed a breakout 12 months after taking over from Barty at the top of the women's world rankings.

Roger Federer and Serena Williams

Fans were hoping to get one last look at Roger Federer and Serena Williams at this year's Australian Open, but the tennis titans announced their retirements within weeks of each other in September. Federer had been battling to return from a third knee surgery before ultimately deciding he couldn't play on.

The 41-year-old played his farewell event at the Laver Cup in London, teaming up with Rafa Nadal in doubles for the final match of his storied career. Just weeks later Williams revealed she was 'evolving away' from tennis, playing her final match at the US Open. The tennis legends have 43 grand slam titles between them (Williams 23 and Federer 20), including 13 at the Australian Open (Williams seven and Federer six).

Serena Williams and Roger Federer, pictured here in Australia in 2019.
Serena Williams and Roger Federer announced their retirements within weeks of each other. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Carlos Alcaraz

In a devastating blow for Carlos Alcaraz, the World No.1 was forced to withdraw with a hamstring injury suffered in pre-season training. The 19-year-old won his maiden grand slam title at the US Open in September and became the youngest male player ever to reach World No.1.

Naomi Osaka

The Australian Open champion in 2019 and 2021, Naomi Osaka withdrew from the 2023 event amid a hiatus from tennis. The four-time grand slam champion hasn't played a tournament since September, sparking concerns about her future in the sport. The 25-year-old wasn't down to play at any of the lead-up events in Australia or New Zealand and hadn't shown any signs that she was preparing to compete.

Naomi Osaka, pictured here at the Australian Open in 2021.
Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open in 2021. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Venus Williams

A two-time finalist at the Australian Open, Venus Williams was also forced to withdraw due to injury. The 42-year-old had been granted a wildcard to play in the Melbourne Park grand slam after her ranking plummeted to outside the top 1000 in the world. However she sustained the injury at a lead-up event in Auckland, forcing her to pull the pin on what would have been a 22nd appearance at the Australian Open.

Simona Halep

Two-time grand slam champion Simona Halep is also missing from the Australian Open after being hit with a provisional suspension after failing a doping test. The 2018 finalist at Melbourne Park tested positive for the blood-boosting drug Roxadustat at the US Open, however she has declared her innocence and vowed to clear her name.

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