After shocking the world with her retirement in March 2022, Ash Barty has revealed she wished she could battle it out on the court against tennis great Serena Williams “one last time”.
Despite announcing she no longer wants “to play professional sport anymore”, the 25-year-old former World No.1 said she “would have loved to challenge herself” again.
As reported by The Age, Barty reflected on her past competitions against Williams.
“The first [time] I was a very young girl who was intimidated,” Barty said.
“The second time I thought I had a chance and I did. But the way that she plays and her greatness was too good for me.
“I would have loved to have challenged myself one last time. That’s my competitive spirit, and me learning from the experiences that I had.
“Not many people on this planet get to say that they played Serena and I’m one of those few people that really got to experience her when she was at her best.
“And I think that was really exciting. It’s a memory and an experience that I’ll never forget and learnt a lot from.”
In Vogue’s September issue, @serenawilliams prepares to say farewell to tennis on her own terms and in her own words. “It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine,” she says. “I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next” https://t.co/6Zr0UXVTH1 pic.twitter.com/YtGtcc18a9
— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) August 9, 2022
The 23-time grand slam women’s singles champion said it was time for her to choose family over tennis.
“Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair,” Williams wrote.
“If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.”
Williams said she’s struggled to admit that it was time to step away from the sport she loves so dearly, crying every time it’s mentioned.
“I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people,” she explained.
“Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”
Like Barty, Williams expressed a similar regret, saying she had hoped to surpass Margaret Court’s 24 grand slam record before retiring.
“There are people who say I’m not the GOAT because I didn’t pass Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles, which she achieved before the “open era” that began in 1968,” she wrote.
“The way I see it, I should have had 30-plus grand slams. I had my chances after coming back from giving birth.
“I went from a C-section to a second pulmonary embolism to a grand slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I played through postpartum depression.
“But I didn’t get there. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. I didn’t show up the way I should have or could have. But I showed up 23 times, and that’s fine. Actually, it’s extraordinary.”