Former No. 1, Who Retired at 25, Finds Life After Tennis

Ashleigh Barty says she's adjusted to a less structured existence
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 1, 2023 1:30 PM CST
Former No. 1, Who Retired at 25, Finds Life After Tennis
Winner Ashleigh Barty, left, and Karolina Pliskova stand with their trophies after the women's singles final match at Wimbledon in July 2021.   (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, File)

As other people have done during the pandemic, Ashleigh Barty stepped away from her job earlier this year. Unlike everyone else, Barty was the No. 1 professional female tennis player in the world at the time. Just 25 years old when she retired in March, Barty has adjusted to staying home in Australia after the "very structured life" of the tour, the New York Times reports. "I think what has surprised me most is how comfortable I've been," she said. "I think there was probably a normal fear or uncertainty in not knowing what my life would look like after tennis after being so focused." Barty had taken a 17-month break from the tour as a teenager, citing mental strain and loneliness.

The fact that Barty quit when she was on top confounded many, especially in a time when stars considerably older play on. The rankings weren't important to her, and she says people measure success differently. Nine months later, Barty stands behind her decision. "I achieved my dreams," she said. In that time, she married, worked on children's books, and wrote an autobiography, My Dream Time. She's spent much time with family and paid off her parents' mortgages as a thank-you for their sacrifices in building her career. Next year, Barty plans to start a youth foundation and a tennis academy.

In January, she'll make commercial appearances at the Australian Open. But she won't play. In March, Barty stopped short of completely ruling out a comeback at some point. She could try another sport: Barty is good enough at golf to turn pro, and she's played cricket professionally, per the Times. She doesn't see any of that happening, and the Sydney Morning Herald reported Friday that Barty turned down a broadcasting job at the Open. "The more time I’ve had to sit and think and absorb this year, I think it is never in the sense of me competing professionally again," Barty said. But she expects to be involved one way or another in the sport that rated her No. 1. "I think that's where I’ll always get my tennis fix," she said, "that taste of the sport that gave me so much." (More Ashleigh Barty stories.)

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