'Wasn't to be': How Vladimir Putin ruined Ash Barty's retirement plan
Ash Barty has revealed how Russia's invasion of Ukraine made her change her initial plans for retirement.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday to explain her shock decision to retire from tennis at 25, Barty hinted that she originally planned to play one more tournament.
However Vladimir Putin ruined the plan.
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Barty suggested she was planning on playing Australia's home tie with Slovakia in the Billie Jean King Cup next month in Brisbane, in what would have been a perfect farewell in her home state.
However the plan came crashing down when Putin invaded Ukraine.
In response, the International Tennis Federation kicked Russia and Belarus out of the Finals of the BJK Cup.
Because Australia were the highest-ranked losing semi-finalists from last year, they were chosen to take Russia's place in the Finals and the tie with Slovakia was scrapped.
That meant Barty didn't have a tournament to play for another few months and she decided to bite the bullet and announce her retirement.
“Timing is everything, I’m a big believer in that," Barty said on Thursday.
"After the Australian Open, I was really hoping that we’d get the opportunity to play a home Fed Cup tie but that wasn’t to be, that wasn’t the case and I just knew that for me, the time was right.
“I was preparing to play. Obviously the event didn't go ahead, which again throws a spanner into the works with my timing and my plans.
“I’d given absolutely everything that I could to this sport and I knew that it wouldn’t be fair to my team and to people who have invested so much time and energy into my life to not be 100 per cent committed for them.”
Leading tennis writer Ben Rothenberg wrote on Twitter: “Remember the April BJK Cup tie in Brisbane cancelled indirectly because of Russia’s banishment? Barty was intending it as a hometown farewell.”
Remember the April BJK Cup tie in Brisbane canceled indirectly because of Russia’s banishment? Barty was intending it as a hometown farewell.
“I was preparing to play…obviously the event didn't go ahead, which again throws a spanner into the works with my timing and my plans.” https://t.co/BnpII7oNuV
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 24, 2022
Barty had earlier announced that she wouldn't play in this month's WTA 1000 events at Indian Wells in Miami, instead intending to farewell fans in her home state.
But as it turned out the Australian Open final was the final match she ever played.
“There is no perfect way, there is no perfect timing but this was our perfect way, and it was a great finish,” Barty said.
“That crowd (for) the final of the Australian Open was like nothing I have ever played in front of before and it was so much fun to enjoy that with them as well as my team.
“Yeah, it was a brilliant way to finish.
“I have so much love and support, and I’m so lucky to get so much love and support here in Australia, and so many people have made my career so much more fun, and being able to share that with them and experience that with them made it all the better, and I think the Australian public allowed me to be myself.”
Ash Barty has no regrets about retirement
Barty said winning the Australian Open wasn't essential before making her shock decision.
"The Australian public allowed me to be myself. They allowed me to make mistakes. They allowed me to be imperfect," she said.
"It really did make that Australian Open so much more enjoyable for all of us to be able to go 'you know what, this is one last crack, let's see what we can do'.
"It was really cool."
Coach Craig Tyzzer admitted he wasn't surprised by Barty's decision after she had cheekily asked if she could retire after her 2019 French Open victory.
"After (winning) Wimbledon that was an obvious goal for us and once she achieved it and once we got to the Olympics, it sort of hit home for me that there wasn't much left in her," he said.
"The motivation wasn't there, except when she played doubles with Storm (Sanders) and mixed with John Peers, her singles really went by the wayside.
"She wasn't fussed.
"So I felt that she had climbed where she needed to get to and it was going to be a hard slog to keep her involved."
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