Poland's Iga Świątek admits she was brought to tears after hearing Ash Barty's shock retirement announcement on Wednesday.
Barty's decision to walk away from tennis while at the very top of the sport, continues to reverberate around the world as fans and fellow players come to terms with the news.
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Świątek - who is set to replace Barty as World No.1 having just won back-to-back WTA 1000 events - said the Aussie's stunning decision to hang up the racquet left her very emotional.
The 20-year-old from Poland is poised to create history by becoming the country's first ever World No.1 in tennis.
However, Swiatek - busing preparing for this week's Miami Open - said the thought of not battling it out with Barty for years to come, left her feeling incredibly sad.
"You already know that I like to cry, so I was crying for a long time," Swiatek explained in Miami.
"There was lot of confusion in me, for sure. But also sadness because when I think of the player that is really complete in terms of physicality, mentality, tennis-wise, I always thought of Ash and I always looked up to her.
"I mean, I still do!
"It would be really nice also to be able to compete against her for the next few years and actually try to play better and better, to be able to beat her slice. We're going to miss her, for sure.
"I really respect and I really think she's brave that she has made this decision because with all the expectations around.
"That's an example not only for us tennis players or other athletes, but every person that they should put their own happiness first."
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Swiatek's touching sentiment was echoed by many other stars in women's tennis including US Open winner Emma Raducanu, who described the Aussie as one of the players who'd inspired her own blossoming career.
"I just want to wish Ash all the best because she had a great career," the 19-year-old said.
"She was a great player and brought a lot of variety to the game. I really respected that. I took a lot of inspiration from her, just how she's able to mix things up."
Raducanu, who said she wanted to be in the game until her 30s, said she could understand how Barty's dalliance with cricket during his first retirement must have helped.
"If you get over-saturated with one thing, it's not healthy with anything you do," she said.
"I feel like that just shows if you take time off, you come back, you're hungry, you're ready. She basically cleaned up when she came back!"
Meanwhile, more tributes flooded in for Barty from tennis royalty, headed by Serena Williams, who tweeted: "@ashbarty I can't lie I was sad to read your decision but also happy for your new chapter.
"Always your fan close up and afar. Sending all my love."
Billie Jean King said: "Australia has a rich history in tennis, and @ashbarty has represented it so well.
"I have no doubt she will continue to inspire and make a positive difference in the world. I wish her all the best in this next chapter of her life."
And Martina Navratilova echoed the sentiments of the tennis world, saying: "Enjoy this chapter of your life after tennis - we will miss you, your smile and your beautiful game."
@ashbarty I can’t lie I was sad to read your decision but also happy for your new chapter. Always your fan close up and afar. Sending all my love
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) March 23, 2022
@ashbarty Dear Ash- you are leaving the tennis and sports world quite speechless and full of praise at the same time. Enjoy this chapter of your life after tennis - we will miss you, your smile and your beautiful game. Be happy Champ, the Hall of Fame is waiting:)!!!
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) March 23, 2022
Australia has a rich history in tennis, and @ashbarty has represented it so well.
I have no doubt she will continue to inspire and make a positive difference in the world.
I wish her all the best in this next chapter of her life.
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) March 23, 2022
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