World number one Ashleigh Barty’s surprise retirement from tennis was met with shock and an outpouring of well wishes from current and former greats Wednesday.
The three-time Grand Slam champion shared a video on social media in which she said she would “step away and chase other dreams”.
Former world number one and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams led the tributes to the departing Australian.
“I can’t lie I was sad to read your decision but also happy for your new chapter,” Williams wrote on Twitter.
“Always your fan close up and afar.
Sending all my love.”
News of Barty’s retirement overshadowed early round play at the WTA/ATP Miami Open on Wednesday, where four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka revealed she had learned of the news in the early hours.
“I feel really happy for her. I know last year was quite tough. She didn’t really go home at all,” Osaka said.
“I think that certainly took a toll. But it was also really inspiring to watch how dedicated she was that entire year. I think she can leave with no regrets.”
Britain’s reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu said Barty’s retirement illustrated “how personal everyone’s objectives and goals are.”
“I feel like if I set out with a goal when I’m starting to play tennis, once I’m happy, it kind of makes sense to finish on a high,” Raducanu said.
American world number 11 Danielle Collins meanwhile said Barty’s retirement was a victory for financial empowerment.
“It’s so cool being able to retire at 25,” Collins said in Miami.
“What other profession would you be able to do that in? There’s not too many. I think it’s incredible for our sport.
“This sport empowers us in a way financially that is really unique to other sports.”
Karolina Pliskova, who Barty defeated to win Wimbledon last year, congratulated the Australian for an “incredible career”.
“It was a privilege to share a court with you,” tweeted the Czech former world number one. “You will be missed.”
Britain’s three-time Grand Slam champion and former number one Andy Murray said on Twitter: “Happy for @ashbarty. Gutted for tennis. What a player.”
Romania’s Simona Halep addressed Barty directly: “Ash, what can I say, you know I have tears right? My friend, I will miss you on tour. You were different, and special, and we shared some amazing moments.”
The former world number one speculated what may be next for Barty: “Grand Slam champion in golf?!”
American former world number one Andy Roddick offered a succinct reaction, retweeting the announcement with a simple “wow”.
The Women’s Tennis Association thanked Barty “for the incredible mark you’ve left on-court, off-court and in our hearts”.
There were also tributes that spoke to Barty’s popularity among fellow players.
“Ash, I have no words…” said the Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion.
“Actually you are showing your true class leaving tennis in this beautiful way. I am so happy I could share the court with you.. tennis will never be the same without you! I admire you as a player and a person.. wishing you only the best!”
Press Release, Source: AFP