Sad Ash Barty detail as Wimbledon celebrates former champions

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Ash Barty, pictured here at the Icons Series golf event during Wimbledon.
Ash Barty was a notable absentee as Wimbledon celebrated its former champions. Image: Getty

Ash Barty was a notable absentee as Wimbledon celebrated its former champions on Sunday in a ceremony to celebrate the 100th anniversary of centre court at the All England Club.

The Aussie star shocked the sporting world in April when she announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 25.

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Barty said she'd fulfilled her lifelong dream of winning Wimbledon in 2021 and had nothing left to accomplish after also winning the Australian Open and French Open.

But as Wimbledon celebrated its former champions on Sunday, Barty was conspicuously absent.

Australian greats Margaret Court, Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Pat Cash and Lleyton Hewitt were all in attendance, but Barty and her idol Evonne Goolagong couldn't attend.

Martina Navratilova, who recently tested positive for Covid-19, was among others not in attendance, along with Serena Williams and Pete Sampras.

The reason for Barty's absence might simply have been that she'd already committed to playing in the Icons Series golf event in the United States.

Ash Barty and Harry Kane, pictured here in action at the Icons Series golf event.
Ash Barty and Harry Kane in action at the Icons Series golf event. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Speculation has been rife in the aftermath of Barty's retirement from tennis that she's eyeing up a code switch to golf.

On Thursday and Friday she played in the exhibition golf event for Team World against Team America alongside the likes of swimming legend Michael Phelps, boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez, English footballer Harry Kane and Aussie cricket legend Ricky Ponting.

Nevertheless, fans were gutted that Barty couldn't be at Wimbledon on Sunday.

Roger Federer plans for one more Wimbledon

Among the previous champions who were in attendance was the great Roger Federer, who revealed to the crowd that he wants to make one final appearance at Wimbledon next year.

Unable to play the 2022 championships following more knee surgery last year, the 20-time grand slam champion who has won a men's record eight titles at Wimbledon didn't disappoint when he addressed the adoring crowd.

"Just tried to be successful here and represent the sport well. I hope I did that and I hope I can come back ... one more time," Federer said to great applause.

Turning 41 next month, Federer hasn't played since losing 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-0 to Hubert Hurkacz in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year.

John McEnroe, Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer, pictured here during the Centre Court ceremony at Wimbledon.
John McEnroe, Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer look on during the Centre Court ceremony at Wimbledon. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The Swiss maestro had surgery soon after to repair damage to his meniscus and cartilage in his right knee - his third operation on that knee in 18 months.

"I've been lucky enough to play a lot of matches on this court. Feels awkward to be here today in a different type of role," said Federer, who had participated in every Wimbledon since his main-draw debut in 1999.

"But it's great to be here with ... all the other champions. This court has given me my biggest wins, my biggest losses."

Federer has committed to playing at the Laver Cup in September and the Swiss Indoors in Basel in October, but Sunday was the first time he's revealed his intentions to play on in 2023.

"Of course I've missed being here. I would have loved to be here," he said.

"I knew walking out here last year, it was going to be a tough year ahead. Maybe didn't think it was going to take me this long to come back. But the knee has been rough on me.

"I didn't know if I should make the trip, but I'm happy standing right here, right now."

Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Andy Murray, Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova were other active players present.

And Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Stefan Edberg and Goran Ivanisevic were among others on hand from yesteryear.

with agencies

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