Ash Barty has spoken for the first time about Serena Williams' decision to retire from tennis, admitting she would have loved one last crack at the American champion.
Williams will step away from professional tennis after the US Open later this month, joining Barty in retirement.
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The Aussie star only faced Williams twice in her career, going down on both occasions.
Williams won 6-2 6-1 at the Australian Open in 2014 when Barty was just 17 years old, before also winning in three sets at the French Open in 2018.
The pair were supposed to meet for the third time at the Yarra Valley Classic ahead of the Australian Open in January, before Williams withdrew due to injury.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald this week, Barty admitted she would have loved one last match against the 23-time grand slam champion before their respective retirements.
“The first [time] I was a very young girl who was intimidated,” Barty admitted.
“The second time I thought I had a chance and I did. But the way that she plays and her greatness was too good for me.
“I would have loved to have challenged myself one last time. That’s my competitive spirit, and me learning from the experiences that I had.
“Not many people on this planet get to say that they played Serena and I’m one of those few people that really got to experience her when she was at her best.
“And I think that was really exciting. It’s a memory and an experience that I’ll never forget and learnt a lot from.”
Barty also expressed her hope that Williams will be happy in retirement after the 40-year-old revealed she wants to extend her family away from the rigours of professional tennis.
Serena Williams' sad admission about Ash Barty
Earlier this month, Williams referenced the retirements of Barty and Caroline Wozniacki as she revealed her plans to step away from tennis.
Williams she said her own retirement is vastly different and she doesn't feel any sense of enjoyment or relief in making the decision.
“I know that a lot of people are excited about and look forward to retiring, and I really wish I felt that way,” she admitted.
“Ashleigh Barty was No.1 in the world when she left the sport this March, and I believe she really felt ready to move on.
"Caroline Wozniacki, who is one of my best friends, felt a sense of relief when she retired in 2020.
“Praise to these people, but I’m going to be honest. There is no happiness in this topic for me. I know it’s not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain.
"It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it’s not.”
Williams is 0-2 since revealing her intentions to hang up the racquet for good, losing to Belinda Bencic in Montreal and Emma Raducanu in Cincinnati.
She now moves on to the US Open - starting August 29 - in what will be an emotional farewell to tennis in front of her adoring home fans in New York.
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