Emma Raducanu paid tribute to Ash Barty as the British teenager vowed to keep playing into her thirties. Reigning Australian Open champion Barty shocked the sport on Wednesday when she announced her retirement from tennis.
Raducanu, who shot to world fame by winning the US Open as a qualifier last September, praised the inspirational Aussie for her “great career” and her friendliness on and off the court. “I think that Ash's retirement just shows how personal everyone's objectives and goals are,” the British number one said.
“I feel like if I set out with a goal when I'm starting to play tennis, I achieve that, like, once I'm happy, it kind of makes sense to finish on a high, if you know what I mean. I feel like it is personal.” The teen proceeded to comment on how long she wants to be in the game and after a bright start to her burgeoning career, Raducanu is poised to have even more success.
“I want to be in the game as long as possible. I'm only 19. I've just come on tour, which is pretty young. Now I think the tour is getting younger,” she said. “There are a lot of great players who are also young. Yeah, I want to be in the game till I'm in my 30s. We'll see what happens and how long I can last, to be honest.”
Barty made the bombshell announcement, saying she was leaving the sport to pursue other life goals: “I’m so happy and I'm so ready,” she said to Casey Dellacqua in an interview. "And I just know at the moment in my heart, for me as a person, this is right.
“I know I’ve done this before but in a very different feeling. I’m so grateful to everything that tennis has given me. It’s given me all of my dreams, plus more, but I know that the time is right now for me to step away and chase other dreams and to put the rackets down.” Barty entered the game aged just 15 back in 2012 and in late 2014, decided to take an indefinite break from tennis. She ended up playing cricket during this hiatus, signing with the Brisbane Heat for the inaugural Women's Big Bash League season.
Barty returned to tennis in early 2016 and three years later won her first Grand Slam at the French Open. In 2021, the tennis star achieved her lifelong dream of winning Wimbledon and in January, she put the icing on the cake. She became the first Aussie woman to win the Australian Open since Chris O'Neil in 1978, and also the eighth female player to win a major on three different surfaces.
Barty won 15 titles across her career with earnings from prize money alone totalling an estimated $24million (£18.1m) and will go down as one of the finest players of the last decade. But she said after more than 10 years in the game, now is the time to step away. "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 am spent,” she said.
"I wasn't sure how to share this news with you so I asked my good friend [retired Australian tennis player Casey Dellacqua] to help me. 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 we created together.”
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