Aussie Ash Barty left the tennis world in disbelief after announcing her shock retirement from the game, but a subtle hint in her final Australian Open champions interview may have given her decision away.
Barty left the sporting world in shock after announcing she was going to pursue other dreams in her sudden retirement from tennis.
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The 25-year-old is a three-time grand slam champion and occupied the World No.1 ranking for 114 weeks in a row.
While Barty had taken time away from the game back in 2014, the Aussie has stunned the tennis community with her shock decision only months after claiming the coveted Aus Open title.
However, an answer from her interview with the WTA Champions Corner a day after her historic Australian Open win may have hinted at her pending decision.
Barty took a couple of months off from the WTA Tour after last year's US Open having been on the road for months during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Aussie World No.1 missed the WTA Finals in a bid to rest, spend time with her family and regather her momentum before the Australian Open.
And she admitted after her Australian Open win that her team had been preparing to put a lot of emphasis on January, before taking stock of what the future would hold.
"There was a massive emphasis on this January. We made the decision as a team in September last year that we wanted to stop, take a breath and really prepare ourselves for the best possible January," she said, when asked on what her goals were for the rest of 2022.
"You can always look back in hindsight and go that was a good decision. That's what we wanted to do. But I think all in all, it's just been an incredible month of enjoyment and of tennis.
"To be able to take myself to new levels on the court and enjoy everything that comes with it was really cool. I think it's going to be really important now for us to take stock and genuinely draw a line in the sand and go, 'OK, we get to celebrate a really, really incredible achievement, celebrate the people that were there with us and then refocus for what's next.'"
Barty said she was 'excited' for what was next, but didn't confirm what that adventure was.
"I'm so excited for my next chapter and for what comes next. But it's important now to take stock, chill out a little bit, have a sneaky beer and be able to cheers to what we've done as a team because it's been really special," she added.
Ash Barty leaves tennis world in a spin with retirement
The 25-year-old posted an interview with good friend Casey Dellacqua on Instagram in which she made the shock announcement.
"Today is difficult and filled with emotion for me as I announce my retirement from tennis," Barty wrote.
"I wasn’t sure how to share this news with you so I asked my good friend Casey Dellacqua to help me.
"I am so thankful for everything this sport has given me and leave feeling proud and fulfilled.
While she may have hinted her pending retirement at the Australian Open, Barty admitted the feelings of retirement had come earlier.
In the interview with Dellacqua, Barty made the startling admission that she's been contemplating retirement since fulfilling her lifelong dream of winning Wimbledon last year.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time and I’ve had a lot of incredible moments in my career that have been pivotal moments,” she told Dellacqua.
“Wimbledon last year changed a lot for me as a person and for me as an athlete when you work so hard your whole life for one goal, and I’ve been able to share that with so many incredible people.
“But to be able to win Wimbledon, which was my dream - the one, true dream I wanted in tennis - that really changed my perspective.
"I just had that gut feeling after Wimbledon and had spoken to my team quite a lot about it.
“There was just a little part of me that wasn’t quite satisfied, wasn’t quite fulfilled. And then came the challenge of the Australian Open."
Barty finished her career as the World No.1 and three grand slams on three different surfaces.
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