The Australian has won 15 titles including the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the French Open and was the sport’s best player for 121 weeks.
The world’s best female tennis player, Ashleigh Barty, has stunned the sport by announcing her early retirement aged just 25.
“Today is difficult and emotional for me as I announce my retirement from tennis,” she said in a video posted to Instagram.
The Australian is leaving the sport less than two months after becoming the first Australian Open national champion in 44 years and winning a Grand Slam tournament on three different surfaces.
Barty has won 15 titles, including Wimbledon, played on grass, and the French Open, played on clay.
“I know how much work it takes to bring out the best in yourself…I don’t have that in me anymore,” she said in the video.
“I no longer have the physical drive, the emotional desire and everything else to challenge myself at the highest level. I’m exhausted.
Barty had previously left the game as a teenager in late 2014 after being unhappy with the Tour.
She returned in 2016 and quickly rose through the ranks, earning worldwide fame for her brilliant tennis and winning the affection of fans for her unflinching sportsmanship.
She spent a total of 121 weeks as the best in the world and seemed destined for more success.
“Thank you for being an incredible ambassador for this sport and for women around the world,” the Women’s Tennis Association tweeted. “We will miss you so much, Ash.”
Barty has made no secret of his dislike of the touring life and his battles with homesickness.
“Ash Barty, the person, has so many dreams that she wants to pursue that don’t necessarily involve traveling the world, being away from my family, being away from home, where I’ve always wanted to be. “, she said on Instagram where she was talking to her close friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua.
“I will never, ever stop loving tennis, it’s been a big part of my life, but I think it’s important that I can enjoy the next part of my life as Ash Barty the nobody, not Ash Barty the athlete.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic brought elite tennis to a halt in 2020, Barty took nearly a year off to spend time with his family rather than rejoin the circuit after it resumed.
“I know I’ve done this before, but in a different feeling,” she said.
“I’m so grateful for tennis, it gave me all my dreams, and more, but I know now is the time for me to walk away and pursue other dreams and put the rackets down.”
She is stepping down after winning nearly $24million in career prize money and as a national hero – the second Aboriginal Australian to win a Grand Slam title – following in the footsteps of Evonne Goolagong Cawley.
Barty’s explosive news sparked tributes from players and officials alike.
“Happy for @ashbarty, gutted for tennis,” said Briton Andy Murray. “What a player.”
Women’s Tennis Association president Steve Simon said Barty has always led by example “through the unwavering professionalism and sportsmanship she brought to every match.”
“With her accomplishments at Grand Slams, WTA Finals and reaching the top of the No1 rankings in the world, she has clearly established herself as one of the WTA’s great champions.”