WTA

'Never say never' - Barty will not close door on tennis return after retirement

By Sports Desk March 24, 2022

Ash Barty has not ruled out a return to professional tennis, saying "never say never" when asked if she could make a comeback in years to come.

The three-time grand slam winner announced her surprise retirement from the sport on Wednesday, less than two months after her home victory at the Australian Open.

At just 25, Barty is stepping away from the court at the peak of her career, and has teased the idea she could step into another sport entirely.

But speaking on Thursday, the reigning Wimbledon champion did not discount the possibility of returning to tennis down the line.

"You never say never," she said. "But it's a long way off at this stage."

Barty previously played cricket during a sabbatical between 2014 and 2016, and has been linked with a switch to golf in recent years too.

She shut down such suggestions as an immediate option, adding: "[I've] got to try and learn how to hit the middle of the club face before I can think of trying to get on the tour."

Elsewhere, Barty admitted that she would miss the competition of the WTA circuit, while praising fellow Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal for his staying power in the sport.

"I love the competition," she said. "That's what has driven me the most in my career, is that one-on-one competition and the thrill of the fight. I know that I'll miss it 100 per cent.

"But I'll be able to get the adrenaline in different ways. Those ways will remain to be seen. But I know that I've been so fortunate to have so many incredible moments on the court."

Unlike Nadal, Barty is bowing out of tennis early, and she respects the way the 35-year-old Spaniard, who also triumphed at Melbourne Park this year, has been able to stay at the top for the best part of two decades.

She said: "It's been an incredible career. His longevity in the sport has been undeniable. He's been amazing for the sport of tennis. For me as a fan to see him do that over such an extended period has been a pleasure."

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