Tennis: Retired star Barty rules out a return to professional sport

MELBOURNE (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE) – Former tennis world number 1 Ashleigh Barty has dashed her hopes of returning to professional sport, after speculation the Australian might switch to golf.

The 26-year-old three-time Grand Slam winner stunned the sporting world with her explosive retirement in March, just weeks after becoming the first Australian Open home champion in 44 years.

Barty had been coy about what she would do next but has always been an avid golfer, winning the women’s title at Brookwater Golf Club near Brisbane in 2020 and playing the Icons Series exhibition in the United States in April.

This has bolstered speculation that the multi-talented Australian, who also played cricket in the Women’s Big Bash League, could take up serious golf.

But in an interview with Melbourne radio late Monday (July 18), she shut down the rumours, ruling out playing any form of professional sport again.

“You just can’t accept that I don’t want to play professional sports anymore,” Barty said.

“I love golf, it’s one of my hobbies. It won’t be my job, I don’t intend to make it my job but I hack once a week if I can.

“I don’t need, I have no desire to play a professional sport, especially golf. I love it as a walk with my girlfriends and friends, but yeah, not for me.”

Barty also said she didn’t even see fellow tennis star Elina Rybakina claim her Wimbledon crown earlier this month.

“I haven’t watched the Wimbledon final this year,” she told the Guardian.

“Sorry to disappoint you.”

Late last year, Barty got engaged to longtime boyfriend Garry Kissick, and since her retirement has published a series of ‘Little Ash’ children’s books.

“Supporting children’s education is something that I am passionate about and if I can help encourage new readers it will make me very happy,” she said last month.

Sara R. Cicero