The Latest York Times Sports department is revisiting the themes of some compelling articles from the last yr or so. In March, the tennis star Ashleigh Barty retired from the game, lower than two months after winning the Australian Open. Here is an update.
As the perfect players in tennis regather in Melbourne, Australia, in January for the primary Grand Slam tournament of the yr, the reigning women’s champion Ashleigh Barty can be back amongst them — but to not defend her title.
In some of the surprising developments in sports in 2022, Barty retired in March at age 25, on top of the ladies’s rankings and on top of her sun-drenched a part of the world after becoming the primary Australian in 44 years to win the Australian Open singles title.
Her early exit from the tour was all of the more striking in a season when Roger Federer retired at age 41 and Serena Williams, now also 41, played what may very well be her final tournament on the U.S. Open.
The leading players of the twenty first century have set latest benchmarks for enduring excellence, staying in the sport long gone the ages when previous champions let go. Barty bucked the trend.
Any regrets nine months later?
“To be honest, I feel what has surprised me most is how comfortable I’ve been,” Barty said by telephone from Brisbane, Australia, last week. “I feel there was probably a standard fear or uncertainty in not knowing what my life would seem like after tennis after being so focused.”
Barty had grown accustomed to the “very structured life” of the tennis circuit.
“I used to be a bit unsure how I’d cope with that because I’m a one that likes to be organized,” she said. “There was probably a bit little bit of fear in that, but overall, that hasn’t been a problem, a priority or a worry. What’s been most surprising in a great way is that I’ve slipped quite seamlessly into this life that’s similar to everyone else, which is type of at all times what I wanted.”
Barty, a self-described “homebody,” married her long-term partner, Garry Kissick, in July, and she or he has spent considerable time with family and friends since her retirement. But her life continues to be not quite like everyone else’s.
She earned nearly $24 million in prize money and thousands and thousands more in endorsements and has been capable of repay the mortgage on her parents’ homes to specific her gratitude for the sacrifices they made to assist her turn into a tennis champion. After retirement, Barty, a superb recreational golfer, was invited to play a round on the Old Course at St. Andrews, and she or he prolonged her stay there to follow her fellow Queenslander Cameron Smith as he won the British Open.
Barty, a multisport talent, has ruled out becoming knowledgeable golfer or returning to skilled cricket, which she played briefly when she took her first indefinite break from tennis at age 17, due to the mental strain and loneliness of life on tour. She returned to the sport 17 months later in 2016 with a latest coach, Craig Tyzzer, and went on to win three major singles titles, including Wimbledon in 2021. She spent 121 weeks at No. 1.
She was entrenched in the highest spot when she retired, and though Iga Swiatek, an explosive talent from Poland, quickly took over at No. 1 and dominated the season, it was hard to not wonder how Barty’s presence would have modified the equation.
“It was a little bit of an odd one, I suppose,” Barty said. “But I feel that was probably what was least necessary to me: where I used to be sitting within the rankings. That was hard for a variety of people to grasp.”
How best to sum up why she did retire?
“I achieved my dreams,” she said. “Everyone has different dreams and alternative ways of defining success. But for me, I knew that I gave all the pieces I could, and I used to be fortunate to live out my ultimate childhood dream, and now it was time for me to explore what else was on the market and never be, I suppose, greedy in a way of keep playing tennis because that’s what I used to be expected to do, and you then blink and perhaps the opposite things have passed you by.”
After retirement, Barty worked on a series of youngsters’s books and her autobiography, “My Dream Time,” which has been published in Australia and can be released in america on Jan. 10.
She said the strategy of writing her memoir was “therapeutic.”
“A strategy to close a chapter on some really tough moments after which to revisit and recelebrate among the most amazing moments,” she said. “So, it was actually an enormous yr in that sense. There was loads happening off the court, and I’m pretty drained at the tip of the yr now, and it’s scary to think that typically I’d be in the course of a tennis preseason preparing for an Australian summer that’s just across the corner.”
As an alternative, Barty will spend the vacations along with her family after which make appearances for her sponsors on the Australian Open, which begins on Jan. 16.
She is preparing to start out her own foundation in 2023 with a concentrate on helping Australian youth and an emphasis on sports and education. She also has announced plans to hitch with Tyzzer and Jason Stoltenberg, one other of her former coaches, to start out an elite tennis academy in Australia. She is wanting to mentor teenagers specifically but not to teach on tour.
Tennis has had no shortage of comebacks: Margaret Court, Bjorn Borg, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin all returned to the tour after early retirement, and Court and Clijsters returned and won majors. But though retiring at 25 gives Barty loads of years to reconsider, she sounds unlikely to accomplish that, even after her comment in March that the door to a comeback “is closed but it surely’s not padlocked.”
“The more time I’ve had to sit down and think and absorb this yr, I feel it isn’t within the sense of me competing professionally again,” she said. “But I’ll never not be involved in the game. So I feel that’s where I’ll at all times get my tennis fix, that taste of the game that gave me a lot.”