Who is Ash Barty? Why Australian tennis star announced retirement - and who is her partner Garry Kissick
Tennis star Ashleigh Barty made her professional debut at just 14-years-old but has retired from the sport to “chase other dreams”
World No 1 tennis player Ashleigh Barty has announced her retirement from professional tennis at the age of 25, following her professional debut at just 14 years old.
The Australian, who has won three Grand Slams and is the reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champion, has said she is retiring from the sport to “chase other dreams”.
This is everything you need to know.
Who is Ashleigh Barty?
Barty is a former Australian professional tennis player and cricketer. She was born in Queensland on 24 April 1996 and is a member of the Indigenous Australian Ngarigo people, which are the Aboriginal people of southern New South Wales and northeastern Victoria.
In 2018, she was named the National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador. At the time, she said: “I’m a very proud Indigenous woman and I think that for me taking on this role is something very close to my heart. I’m very excited
“If we can get more kids playing tennis and more kids enjoying tennis across Australia within the Indigenous communities that would be amazing.”
Barty is the youngest of three sisters and she grew up in Springfield in Queensland, where she attended Woodcrest State College.
Barty has been in a relationship with Garry Kissick, an Australian professional golfer, since 2017. The two originally met in 2016 at the Brookwater Golf Club.
In November 2021, Barty and Kissick announced their engagement. On her Instagram, she shared a picture of the two of them hugging with an engagement ring on her finger. In the caption, Barty wrote “future husband” and tagged Kissick.
What has Ash Barty’s tennis career looked like?
At just the age of four, Barty was training with the junior coach Jim Joyce at the West Brisbane Tennis Centre.
Talking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Joyce said that he doesn’t tend to train kids that young, usually sending them away to return when they’re seven or eight. However, it was Barty’s impressive hand-eye coordination and intense focus that caught Joyce’s attention.
He said: “But the first ball I threw to her, bang! She hit it right back.
“The whole time I was talking to other kids, twice her age, she was just staring at me. She never took her eyes off me.”
By the time she was nine, Barty was practising against 15-year-old boys - and by 12, she was facing off against adult men.
Barty claimed her first title at the Grade 4 Australian International at 13 and began her professional career just after she turned 14 at an International Tennis Federation Women’s Circuit in her hometown. Later that same year in Mount Gambier she reached the semi-finals at only her second professional tournament, defeating Ayu Fani Damayanti in her maiden professional victory.
In July of 2011, Barty won against Irina Khromacheva at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships final 7–5 7–6 to win the girls’ singles tennis title at the age of 15. She became the second Australian female to win the girl’s singles event after Debbie Freeman in 1980, and was awarded a wildcard into the US Open by Tennis Australia.
In 2012, she made her singles and doubles main draw debuts on the WTA Tour and, after failing in singles qualifications, she teamed up with Casey Dellacqua to reach the doubles semi-finals while still just 15 years old.
Barty announced in 2014 that she would be taking a break from professional tennis. During her hiatus, she played cricket professionally and signed up with the Brisbane Heat for the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League season in 2015.
She announced her return to tennis the following year in 2016 and in 2017 she won her first WTA title at the Malaysian Open before rising to No 17 in the world.
At the age of 23, in 2019, Barty became the first Australian woman in 46 years to win the French Open following her victory against Marketa Vongdrousova. Two weeks later, she claimed the world No 1 ranking after beating Germany’s Julia Goerges in the final of the Birmingham Classic.
In 2020, Barty was awarded as the Young Australian of the Year and that same year she became a Brookwater Golf Club Women’s Champion, despite having never played golf professionally.
In 2021, Barty became the first Australian woman to reach a Wimbledon singles final since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980. That year, Barty then became the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon in 41 years.
Earlier this year, Barty won against American Danielle Collins to win her maiden Australian Open title.
Across her career, Barty won 15 singles and 12 doubles titles on the WTA Tour, which includes three Grand Slam titles in singles and one in doubles, and finished as the year-end world No 1 in singles in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Why is Ash Barty retiring?
In a shock announcement that’s shaken the tennis world, Barty has announced that she is retiring from the sport at just 25, in order to “chase other dreams”.
The Queenslander revealed she was retiring in an emotional Instagram video recorded with friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua.
Barty said: “I kind of wasn’t quite sure how I was going to do this but I think so many times in my life both my professional and my personal, you’ve been there for me.
“And I just couldn’t think ‘there’s no right way, there’s no wrong way’, it’s just my way and this is perfect for me to share it with you to talk to you about it with my team, my loved ones, that I’ll be retiring from tennis.
“And it’s the first time I’ve actually said it out loud and yeah, it’s hard to say, but I’m so happy and I’m so ready and I just know at the moment in my heart for me as a person, this is right.”
She said that she is “so grateful to everything tennis has given me” but said that “the time is right now for me to step away and chase other dreams”.
When asked by Dellacqua “why now”, Barty replied: “It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.”
The right-hander said winning at Wimbledon – the first time an Australian had claimed a singles title at the Championships in nearly 20 years – had been her “one true dream”.
“I’ve had a lot of incredible moments in my career that have been pivotal moments,” she said.
“Wimbledon last year changed a lot for me as a person and for me as an athlete when you work so hard your whole life for one goal, and I’ve been able to share that with so many incredible people.
“But to be able to win Wimbledon, which was my dream, my one true dream that I wanted in tennis, that really changed my perspective.”
She added: “I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself, and I’ve said it to my team multiple times [that] I just don’t have that in me any more. I don’t have the physical drive, the emotional want and everything it takes to challenge yourself at the very top of the level any more.
“I just know that I am absolutely spent, I just know physically I have nothing more to give and that for me is success. I have given absolutely everything I can to this beautiful sport of tennis.”
Barty promised in the caption to the video there would be “more to come” at a press conference.
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