Three-time Grand Slam champion Ash Barty, who earlier this year won the Australian Open, has stunned the world of tennis by announcing her retirement at the age of 25
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Barty, 25, fulfilled a childhood dream this year when she captured the Australian Open on home soil, defeating American player Danielle Collins in the final. Her form in Melbourne was prolific, as she captured the title without dropping a single set.
It was a third Grand Slam win for the Queenslander after previous wins at the French Open  and Wimbledon , making her only the eighth female player to capture a major title on three different surfaces. She also became the first Australian woman since Chris O’Neil in 1978 to prevail at Melbourne Park.
However, despite seemingly being world No 1 and seemingly at the peak of her powers, Barty left fans, pundits, and fellow players stunned on Wednesday morning by taking to Instagram to confirm she was stepping away from the spor t. Alongside a video clip of an interview with to close friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua, she explained her decision.
“Today is difficult and filled with emotion for me as I announce my retirement from tennis. I wasn’t sure how to share this news with you so I asked my good friend @caseydellacqua to help me,” wrote Barty.
“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.”
Murray, 34, himself a three-time Slam champion, admitted on Twitter he was “gutted” by the news. “Happy for Ash Barty gutted for tennis,” he wrote. “What a player.”
Williams, who in 2015 helped Barty return to tennis after she briefly left the sport to pursue a cricket career, also paid tribute on social media. “Honestly a little lost for words,'” she posted.
“Thank you for inspiring not only young girls not only across Australia, but the world. Thank you for showing that kindness wins. Thank you Ash Barty.”
Barty started her professional career in April 2010 just after turning 14, playing in an ITF Women’s Circuit event. In 2019, she ended her wait for a Slam title, becoming the first Australian to win at Rolland Garros since Margaret Court in 1973.
In 2021, she justified her no 1 seeding at SW19 by beating Karolina Pliskova in the final, and then this year’s triumph down under left her just a US Open win away from a career Grand Slam. However, she told Dellacqua she was at ease with her decision, having “given everything to this beautiful sport.”
She becomes the second WTA world No 1 to retire after Justin Henin in 2008, who was aged 26. The Belgian player returned in 2010 but her renaissance was brief, as an elbow injury forced her to step away permanently the following year.