'Difficult decision': Tennis fans saddened by Ash Barty announcement

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Ash Barty, pictured here speaking to the media after winning the WTA Finals in 2019.
Ash Barty speaks to the media after winning the WTA Finals in 2019. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Ash Barty has confirmed the sad news that her 2021 season is over, officially withdrawing from the WTA Finals.

The Australian star won't defend her crown at the season-ending tournament after formally ending her 2021 season on Saturday.

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The World No.1 hasn't played since the US Open in September and says her full focus now is on preparing for the Australian summer and another tilt at her home grand slam in Melbourne.

The 25-year-old won five titles in a stellar 2021 season, including a second major at Wimbledon in July.

She is assured of ending the year as No.1 for a third-consecutive season.

Barty pocketed the biggest cheque in tennis history for $6.4 million after winning the WTA Finals in Shenzhen in 2019.

She is still the defending champion because last year's edition was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Having returned to Australia in September and not wanting to endure a second two-week stint in quarantine in barely two months, Barty has opted against travelling to the relocated 2021 WTA Finals in Mexico in mid-November.

Ash Barty, pictured here after beating Elina Svitolina to win the WTA Finals in 2019.
Ash Barty beat Elina Svitolina to win the WTA Finals in 2019. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

"I wanted to let everyone know that I won't be competing in any further tournaments in 2021, including the WTA Finals in Mexico," Barty said in a statement on Saturday.

"It was a difficult decision but I need to prioritise my body and my recovery from our 2021 season and focus on having the strongest pre-season for the Australian summer.

"With ongoing challenges of travelling back to Queensland and quarantine requirements, I am not willing to compromise my preparation for January.

"I wish the WTA team and the players all the best for a successful WTA Finals and the rest of the year."

Fans were left saddened by the news that we won't see Barty back on court this year.

Ash Barty's coach slams 'ridiculous' WTA Finals move

Last month, Barty's coach Craig Tyzzer indicated it was highly unlikely that Barty would play the WTA Finals due to "ridiculous" conditions in Mexico.

"We only just found out it's in Mexico at 1500 metres (above sea level) and they're using pressure-less balls," Tyzzer told AAP.

"Pressure-less balls absolutely fly. It's a ball that if you use it in normal conditions, it doesn't bounce.

"In conditions they've never played, in a country they don't play and at altitude, I just feel it's ridiculous. As a spectacle, it's just frightening."

Tyzzer said Barty's priority was to get her body right for the Australian Open in January.

"She needs to get home, she's a super homebody," Tyzzer said.

"She just needs a rest. She was physically and mentally exhausted. So I told her to just get away and have a holiday and just refresh everything.

"It certainly isn't easy for us to get there and to play that event in Mexico and then to come back and have to do two (more) weeks (in quarantine) and then your summer is sort of ruined as well."

Barty hadn't been home since March when she made a tearful farewell and jetted overseas for a worldwide tour that encompassed the French Open, Wimbledon, Tokyo Olympics and US Open.

"It was all new to me, new to try and wrap my head around and comprehend where we're going to be away for such an extended period," Barty told AAP at the time.

"Of course, there were tears in the days leading up. And when I did finally leave."

Ash Barty, pictured here with partner Garry Kissick at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner in 2019.
Ash Barty and partner Garry Kissick at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner in 2019. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

with AAP

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