Former World No.1 and three-time Grand Slam champion Ash Barty is standing firm on her decision to stay away from the competitive tennis scene, dashing hopes of a grand comeback like some of her counterparts.
The Australian tennis sensation, who shocked the sports world by stepping away from the game at the peak of her career, is resolute in her commitment to prioritise motherhood over the allure of the tennis court.
“I won’t be one of them” Barty declared firmly to AAP, referencing the recent comebacks of fellow champions Naomi Osaka, Caroline Wozniacki, and Angelique Kerber.
“I miss parts of it, but mostly I miss seeing my mates.
“I miss seeing the girls that I’ve built such a relationship with over so many years, but a lot of my best mates have also retired now and they’re kind of moving on to their next chapters.
“We’ll still get out there and hit occasionally if anyone asks or any of my mates ask.”
While Barty acknowledges the occasional friendly match with mates, she insists that she is “enjoying” what she is doing now.
Part of what she is currently enjoying is being a mother to her six-month-old son Hayden.
“There’s nothing keeping me away. It’s not like I’m doing things to keep myself away from the court,” Barty said.
“I want be able to be there to raise Hayden and I want to be able to enjoy that.
“That’s what I want to do, plain and simple. That’s where my priorities lie now.
“I absolutely love being mum. There’s nothing else that I prefer to do.”
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In addition to embracing motherhood, Barty remains active in philanthropy, particularly with her recently announced endeavour, the Ash Barty Foundation.
“The foundation is not quite fulltime but I want to be involved,” she explained.
“It was the reason I waited until I had finished playing and had retired so that I had more time to commit. It wasn’t something that I wanted to do just when I could fit it in.
“My dad’s a chair, one of my sisters is on the board, which is great, and the other one, we’re in discussions every day.
“I’m very grateful that we’ve got such an amazing team and it’s really nice to do it with people that I love and trust, and people that have the same philosophies and values.”
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Aiming to inspire, educate, and open doors for the upcoming generation, Barty expressed that the realisation of launching her foundation marked the fulfillment of a long-cherished dream.
“To see it come to life is something I’m incredibly proud of,” she said.
“This almost feels like it can be more of an important contribution than hitting a tennis ball.
“I’ve always said that tennis was what I did, it wasn’t who I am.
“This is something that I get to do now and it’s a passion.”
While fans may feel a tinge of disappointment at Barty’s decision to stay away from the tennis court, her commitment to motherhood and her philanthropic endeavours suggests a genuine happiness in pursuing fulfilling and meaningful paths beyond the realm of competitive tennis.