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Ash Barty is the world's best tennis player. At 25, she's retiring to "chase other dreams".

Ashleigh 'Ash' Barty is a force to be reckoned with. And at only 25 years old, Barty has achieved significant greatness. 

She was Young Australian of the Year for 2020, is a role model for countless Aussie kids - and the Indigenous community - as well as winning three major tennis single titles: the French Open (2019), Wimbledon (2021) and this year's Australian Open.

And given Barty has retained the women's singles world No.1 ranking since she replaced Naomi Osaka in 2019, she's at the top of her game.

Which makes it all the more surprising that Barty today announced she will be retiring from tennis

Watch Ash Barty win at Wimbledon. Post continues below.


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The news of her early retirement was met with shock and disbelief from the tennis community and its massive fanbase. 

As we say farewell to Ash Barty, let's take a look back at her incredible achievements, her legacy, career, and her start in the world of tennis. 

From a young age, Ash Barty always dreamt of Wimbledon.

Born in 1996, Barty grew up in Springfield, Queensland, with her parents Josie and Robert Barty and two older sisters, Sara and Ali. Her father is from the Ngarigo Indigenous people and her mother is of English descent.

It was a typical Aussie household in suburbia, where the sporting interests of the three girls were "central to family life" Barty told The Guardian.

At the tender age of four, Barty found an old squash racket. and began hitting balls against the garage wall for hours. Her dad Robert saw potential and rang a local junior tennis coach, Jim Joyce. 

"[Joyce] said 'we don't take them until they are eight'," Robert reflected. "We went down and he threw her a ball and she whacked it over his head. She kept doing that until he said 'you can come back next week'. He said she had it written all over her face."

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By age nine, she was practising against 15-year-old boys. Joyce says Barty was winning so many matches in the junior competitions that she began to donate the trophies to struggling tennis clubs.

And ever since, Barty always said that winning Wimbledon was her childhood dream. 

Image: Instagram 

At 17, Barty took a break from the game. She didn't know if she would return.

Despite being the junior Wimbledon champion at just 15 years old, Barty made the decision at 17 to step away from playing professional tennis due to the overwhelming demand and impact on her mental health in 2014.

Barty felt depressed and overwhelmed at the time, and knew stepping away from the game professionally was necessary.

"I went from not being known anywhere in the world to winning junior Wimbledon and six months later playing the Australian Open. I was a victim of my own success, really," Barty later reflected. 

At the time, Barty's dad Robert said of his daughter's mental health: "When she decided to finish tennis, we knew she was struggling, but we didn't realise how much she didn't like the attention and the limelight. We said 'Okay you have got to be happy darl, we are here to support you through the whole process'."

And of course, while she took a much-needed break, Barty decided doing no sport was out of the question, so she tried her hand at professional cricket She played in the Women's Big Bash League for Brisbane Heat. 

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But in 2016, she returned to tennis with a fresh sense of determination. 

"It was good for me and my mind. I feel like I'm back happy and healthier and playing some good tennis at the moment," she said at the time. 

In 2019, after winning the French Open, she said during her media conference: "I don't even know if I'd be sitting here talking to you if I was playing tennis [and I] didn't step away. I needed time to step away, to live a normal life, because this tennis life certainly isn't normal. I think I needed time to grow as a person, to mature."

And mature and grow as a person and professional athlete she did. 

Image: Getty. 

Ash Barty has since gone from strength to strength in her tennis career.

When Barty made a return to tennis, she meant business. Her progress went a little something like this:

In March 2017, she cracked the top 100, ranking as World No.92.

In September 2018, she won her first Grand Slam title in doubles with American CoCo Vandeweghe at the US Open.

In March 2019, she then cracked the world's top 10: an incredible milestone. That was thanks to her first WTA Premier Mandatory title at the Miami Open. And from then on, Barty's star and talent only increased.

A couple of months later, she won her first Grand Slam singles title at the French Open and by late 2019 she reached a career-high singles ranking of world No.1 - becoming the second Australian woman to reach that spot. Her career goal had always been to crack the top 10 ranking, something she surpassed. 

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In 2021, she won the women's singles title at Wimbledon, becoming the first Aussie to do so since 1980.

And then to top it all off, this year - in an event that won't be forgotten by many - Barty won the Australian Open women's singles title.

Previously speaking to Mamamia about her success in the industry, Barty said: "The way I live my life hasn't changed but my schedule is definitely busier, and there is more attention on me than there used to be. "I'm a pretty low-key person so I'm still getting used to that [but] the support from the Australian public has been amazing and I am so grateful for that."

Image: Getty. 

What Ash Barty's life looks like off the court.

As of late, Barty has been taking stock of her life and spending time with those closest to her, she shared with Vogue Australia. Walking her three dogs, picking up her niece from school, family barbecues with her parents and sisters, playing golf with her fiancé: life is good. 

She said: "I'm enjoying the time now that's personal to me, reconnecting with my loved ones and almost reconnecting with what life's all about, and not having the professional side of my life interfering at the moment. It's just nice to take stock and train a little bit but certainly prioritise the things that matter most to me."

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And 2022 started off with a bang as Barty and her long-term partner Garry Kissick announced their engagement a month or two earlier. 

Kissick and Barty reportedly met in 2016 and became an item in 2017. Kissick is a PGA Golf trainee professional who also resides in the Ipswich area in Brisbane like Barty.

In an interview with Vogue Australia, Barty credited him for being "extremely patient". 

"When we met he didn't know a lot about tennis. He's kind of been thrown in the very deep end in understanding what the tour is like and how much we're apart... he's the best person to have around in the sense of switching off from tennis and being able to bring the fun and laughter when we are training and not be so serious all the time." 

She continued: "I certainly wouldn't want to share this journey with anyone else. Home is where the heart is."

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In her spare time, Barty has also been a passionate advocate for young people and getting them involved in sport.

"Playing sport was something I loved as a kid and still love today. Sport can provide kids with so many benefits: new friendships, staying active and even career opportunities. The most important thing is to enjoy it and have fun, whatever the sport or level of involvement," Barty told Mamamia

Barty is also Tennis Australia's National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador, and regularly works with First Nations communities and kids, helping them find happiness and passion in sport. 

Just last month, she was in Alice Springs and Uluru helping deliver the 'Racquets and Red Dust' tennis program, writing on Instagram about the experience: "I've never been so proud to be a Ngarigo woman.

"My heritage is really important to me," she said. "I just think it's important to do the best I can to be a good role model. Giving back to my community is very important to me and I hope to inspire many more Indigenous kids to get active and enjoy their tennis."

She aims to live each day, on and off the court, by the values instilled in her by her parents and upbringing.

"The advice my parents gave me is to be a good person first and foremost. That's what I still focus on today."

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The legacy that Ash Barty has created.

Barty has undoubtedly been Australia's greatest tennis hope this decade.

She is a tennis champion and a formidable opponent on the court. But who Barty is off the court is just as powerful.

So the news that Barty is retiring from tennis is pretty bittersweet for all. The 25-year-old shared the news via Instagram in a six-minute-long interview with her friend and former tennis player Casey Dellacqua. 

"Today is difficult and filled with emotion for me as I announce my retirement from tennis," Barty wrote in the caption. 

"I wasn’t sure how to share this news with you so I asked my good friend @caseydellacqua to help me. I am so thankful for everything this sport has given me and leave feeling proud and fulfilled. Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way, I’ll always be grateful for the lifelong memories that we created together."

And unlike 2014, this time Barty says she's quitting for good.

"I've had a lot of incredible moments in my career that have been pivotal moments, and Wimbledon last year changed [me] a lot. 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.

"Then came the challenge of the Australian Open... I think that for me just feels like the most perfect way, my perfect way to celebrate what an amazing journey my tennis career has been. 

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"Success for me is knowing that I've given absolutely everything I can... And I've said it to my team, multiple times, I just don't have that in me anymore," she said. 

"I've given absolutely everything I can to this beautiful sport of tennis and I'm really happy with that, and for me that is my success. I know that people may not understand it, and that's okay. Ash Barty the person has so many dreams that she wants to chase that don't necessarily involve travelling the world, being away from my family, being away from my home."

Barty, alongside fellow tennis champion and close friend Evonne Goolagong Cawley, will remain one of the greatest Aussie tennis players of our time. 

And just like Cawley was an inspiration to Barty, she too will become an inspiration for the next generation of brilliant Indigenous tennis stars. 

As Barty said after winning Wimbledon in 2021 - on the 50th anniversary of Cawley's first Wimbledon win: 

"Evonne is a very special person in my life. I think she has been iconic in paving a way for young Indigenous youth to believe in their dreams and to chase their dreams. She’s done exactly that for me as well. I think being able to share that with her and share some pretty special victories now with her, to be able to create my own path, is really incredible, really exciting.

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"She's just been an icon for years and years, not just on the tennis court. Her legacy off the court is incredible. I think if I could be half the person that Evonne is, I'd be a very, very happy person."

As for what the future looks like for Barty, the sky is the limit. Along with her important work in local Indigenous communities and encouraging young kids to follow their sporting dreams, Barty is also an ambassador for multiple charities: not to mention she's also planning a wedding!

"I'll never ever stop loving tennis. It'll always be a massive part of my life. But now I think it's important that I get to enjoy the next phase of my life as Ash Barty the person, not Ash Barty the athlete. Tennis is about being humble and respectful, and giving it a crack: trying to be the best you can be, and that's all you can ask of yourself," she said. 

And what a brilliant job she did. Thank you, Ash Barty. 

Feature Image: Getty. 

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