Ash Barty appears to have dashed hopes will return to professional sport once and for all after she once again confirmed she was done with that chapter of her life.
Barty’s March retirement announcement at the age of 25 still appears to hurt for Aussies who want to believe the three-time grand slam winner and champion person has a plan of some sort to return to sport.
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Her appearances on the Icons Series tournament and a round at St Andrews before Cameron Smith’s triumph at The Open had many believing Barty was set to prepare to seek world golf domination.
But Barty has once again poured water on any kind of comeback.
Since her retirement, Barty has also released the first four books in her Little Ash series, won the NAIDOC person of the year and won her local golf club’s ladies competition.
Spruiking the books on 101.9 The Fox Melbourne’s Fifi, Fev and NickAFL great Brendan Fevola asked about her future sporting plans and Barty gave an answer none of her fans would want to hear.
“You guys just can’t accept that I don’t want to play professional sport anymore,” Barty laughed.
“I love golf, it’s a hobby of mine. It will not be my profession, I have no intention of making it my profession but I hack around once a week if I can — and I play off four.
“There’s no need, there’s no desire for me to play professional sport, particularly golf. I love it as a walkaround with my girlfriends and friends but yeah, not for me.”
Barty won three grand slam titles and played WBBL cricket with the Brisbane Heat.
In the wake of her retirement, the door was left over for a comeback at any time but Barty’s recent comments are pretty definitive.
Speaking at St Andrews, Barty said: “I love my golf, it’s a hobby,” she said. “It’s something I love to play socially with my friends on some of the most beautiful courses around the world. But certainly not something I want to take too seriously. This is fun. I love it. It’s always been a hobby of mine so it’s nice to get to experience some really cool things like this today.”
As for a tennis comeback, Barty shut that down as well, not even watching Elina Rybakina take her Wimbledon crown.
“I didn’t watch this year’s Wimbledon finals,” Barty told The Guardian last week. “Sorry to disappoint.
“Obviously I was rapt for Ons (Jabeur) and Elena (Rybakina), who are both brilliant girls. And it was obviously awesome to see Nick, who I’ve known for over a dozen years, get to the end.
“But since retiring I’ve probably watched as many matches as I did when I was playing, which was slim to none. Occasionally we’ll have it on as background noise but it’s very seldom that I’ll sit down and watch a match from start to end with any interest.
“I hit enough tennis balls in my life. I don’t need to see others hitting them as well.
“I’ve no regrets about retiring. Not one. I knew it was the right time for me. It was what I wanted to do. And I know that a lot of people may still not understand it. But I hope they respect that in the sense that it was my decision.”
When Barty retired, her long-time coach Craig Tyzzer revealed she asked “Can I retire now?” after winning the French Open in 2019.
The comments came after the radio hosts asked if Barty would have retired after the Australian Open if she had lost.
“My decision was the same, I knew that it was my last Australian Open and, in a way it freed me up to be more myself that I could have ever been in my life and just play completely with no consequence,” Barty said. Go out there and enjoy it and play with real freedom and that in the end the helped me out a lot.”
Barty said the Australian summer took her back to when she fell in love with the sport and said it was “the perfect way to play my last match”.
Since retiring, Barty said she’s been “super busy”, hinting at focusing her professional life in the future on inspiring the next generation.
Barty said her eldest daughter Lucy inspired her to write the book and was the perfect critic.
“It’s awesome to be able to encourage kids to try different sports, to try everything, to continue to try different sports until they find something they love,” Barty said.
“I tried a bunch of things when I was young but tennis was my first passion, first love and it’s encouraging kids to continue to explore that.
“Sport is just so many things. My best friends in my entire life were met through sport. You meet different people, you challenge yourself, it’s a healthy lifestyle and I think encouraging kids to get involved in that is something I’ve always been passionate about.”