Tennis luminary Billie Jean King has opened up about fellow tennis star Ash Barty’s recent retirement, revealing that the 26 year old’s decision left her “very upset”.
Barty announced her retirement on social media on March 23, 2022, a mere two months after winning the World No.1 title.
King, 79, has now expressed her thoughts on the retirement decision, telling The Herald Sun that she believes “people should not be encouraged to go out on top”.
“I was very upset she retired, she’s a great athlete but more importantly I do want her to be happy,’’ King told the publication.
“She’s so young, she’s great for the sport.
“Bill Bradley, he was a basketball player, had a book out and I wish I’d read it before I retired. He talked about sport’s like a lifetime and you should play as long as you can… it’s like a life.”
Following King’s comments, Barty’s supporters were quick to defend her decision to retire.
Here’s the thing about Ash Barty deciding what she would do with her future is…
ASH BARTY DECIDED IT.
It’s her decision to make whether you, I or anyone else agrees with it.
— The Smiling Catassin (@smilingCatassin) January 29, 2023
Ash Will be back at some point
— Brent Gilmour (@Cuzziebro8711) January 29, 2023
Good luck to Ash. She made her choice, and she’s happy with it
— Pathway Plodder (@Monique31707000) January 29, 2023
Barty sent shockwaves through the world of tennis when she took to Instagram earlier in 2022 to announce that she was stepping away from tennis.
Alongside her former doubles partner, Casey Dellacqua, the former World No.1 told fans “today is difficult and filled with emotion for me as I announce my retirement from tennis.”
“I wasn’t sure how to share this news with you so I asked my good friend @caseydellacqua to help me. I am so thankful for everything this sport has given me and leave feeling proud and fulfilled,” she said at the time.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way, I’ll always be grateful for the lifelong memories that we created together.”
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Speaking at a later press conference on Thursday, March 24, 2022, Barty said she had “no regrets” about her retirement.
“I’ve said exactly what I wanted to say,” Barty said.
“I’m an open book. I’m not hiding anything, I’ve got no secrets. I am just so proud of all of the work that I have done with my team.
“We have done this together right from the start, have enjoyed every single minute and we have no regrets.
“We have achieved so much together and it’s been fun on the way.
“I just knew for me the time was right.
“I’d given absolutely everything that I could to this sport, and I knew that it wouldn’t be fair to my team and the people that have invested so much time and energy into my life to not be 100 per cent committed for them.
“It’s been a hell of a journey. I wouldn’t change a thing and I certainly have no regrets.
“I’m just really excited now for what comes next and I’m excited for the new challenges.”