‘I’m done’ – Australian tennis champion rules out a comeback

Ash Barty finds rumours of her comeback to sport – tennis or otherwise – laughable.

Ash Barty finds rumours of her comeback to sport – tennis or otherwise – laughable. Photo: Getty

Bookmakers can close their markets and tennis fans can despair: Ash Barty has emphatically ruled out making a comeback – ever.

Nor will the sporting super talent make any cross-code forays to golf or returning to cricket.

“Nope, I’m done,” Barty said on Monday after returning to Melbourne Park to reflect on her momentous Australian Open triumph in January and to promote her memoir, My Dream Time.

“You can never say never but no. No, no, no. I’m done.”

Barty’s shock retirement in March, at only 25 and after enjoying 121 weeks as a dominant world No.1, sent bookmakers in to a frenzy trying to predict what sport she’d pursue next.

Even Barty, a one-time Brisbane Heat BBL star and a four-marker with a swing that wowed Tiger Woods before the 2019 President’s Cup, “cracked up” when newspaper graphics had the three-time grand slam champion saddled on a horse as a potential jockey or turning to lawn bowls.

But now blissfully married, the retired superstar insists she no longer yearns to be a professional athlete.

“I miss competing and challenging myself against the best of the world but I don’t miss a lot that comes with it,” Barty said.

“I’m still competitive with myself when I train at home. I still try and push myself but there’s no white-line fever any more.

“I never really felt like there was this void that needed to be filled in because there was a genuine sense of fulfilment at the end of my career.

“I don’t think I was still searching for the competitive beast anymore.”

That wasn’t always the case, especially when Barty walked away from tennis for the first time in 2014, homesick, disillusioned and dissatisfied.

“During that period of my life [while] playing cricket, I was searching. I was searching for stimulation, I was searching for other things,” she said.

“But now I don’t need that. Now I have probably understood and realised that I’ve had an extremely full, fulfilling, incredible journey in my athletic and professional career and now it’s time to close that chapter.

“Now it’s the beginning of a completely new chapter in my life and we see what’s possible as opposed to searching for what’s missing.”

Ash Barty retires: Watch the announcement

The 26-year-old remains unsure what the future holds, though she’s already enjoying mentoring young players and a role as Billie Jean King Cup captain some time down the track wouldn’t surprise.

For now, she’s happy to smell the roses after the chance to write her book provided a semblance of “closure”.

From the very first chapter, which revealed how Barty “hit rock bottom” following a demoralising third-round Wimbledon exit in 2018, the Queenslander was intent on offering up a warts-and-all account of her career and young life.

“I didn’t want to sugar-coat it or lie about anything. I was just telling my story, my journey and the tears that came with it were therapeutic,” Barty said.

“But also at times there was probably an understanding of how much single moments meant to me, and how much single moments became really pivotal moments.

“At those times, I didn’t know. But reflecting on it, I realised how big a moments they were.”

Topics: Ash Barty
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