‘Savage move’ – Gauff, Osaka, Tsitsipas and others try to make sense of Ash Barty’s sudden retirement

Media day at the Miami Open gave top players a chance to speak openly about Ash Barty’s retirement from tennis. Here’s what they had to say.

Ash Barty and Cori Gauff, Adelaide 2022 Ash Barty and Cori Gauff, Adelaide 2022 © Zuma / Panoramic

The Miami Open press room was buzzing on Wednesday as many top players fulfilled their media day obligations. Without question the hot topic of the day was Ash Barty’s sudden retirement from tennis. The 25-year-old Aussie announced her retirement on Wednesday, becoming the second player in WTA history to retire with the No 1 ranking. Here’s what players had to say about it…

Coco Gauff – ‘Savage Move’

“That’s such a savage way to leave, I shouldn’t say leave, but end your career on that,” Gauff said. “What sticks out to me the most about Ash, she’s such a nice person off the court. Obviously on court we know what a great player she is. But she is such a great person, so I wish her the best. I’m really excited to see what she has [planned]. I saw the video. She says she has some things planned. I’m excited to see what career path or things she has planned next.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas – ‘Shocking to Me’

“Ash Barty retirement announcement was very shocking to me,” the fifth-ranked Greek told reporters. “I found it through social media after scrolling my feed. I saw that video. I watched the entire video in disbelief because I couldn’t believe what I just saw.

“She’s been doing incredibly well. Honestly she’s at the peak of her game right now I think, having won Wimbledon, Aussie Open recently. I knew she would want to take a break after the Australian Open, which I guess is normal, having to reflect on all of these events that happened. Didn’t expect it to be coming anytime soon.”

Danielle Collins – ‘it speaks to the way our sport empowers women’

“I think for someone to retire at 25, I think it really speaks to the way our sport empowers women,” this year’s Australian Open runner-up said. “I think it’s just incredible for her to have achieved what she’s achieved on court, to now be able to enjoy the rest of her life. All of the hard work, she certainly was all of that, deserves happy retirement, and hopefully she can have a great life off the court.

“I know she probably has many more goals she wants to fulfill. I’m sure that she’s going to be able to do that with all the success that she’s had. Yeah, I think it’s so cool being able to retire at 25. What other profession would you be able to do that in? There’s not too many. I think it’s incredible for our sport.”

Emma Raducanu – Barty ‘taught me how to kick an Aussie football’

“I just want to wish Ash all the best because she had a great career,” Raducanu said. “I think she set out to achieve everything, I mean, what she wanted to when she started playing the sport. I think she was a great player and she brought a lot of variety to the game. I really respected that. I took a lot of inspiration from her, just how she’s able to mix things up. She was always really friendly to be around, as well, in the locker room. She taught me how to kick an Aussie football once, too – it was really cool of her.”

Naomi Osaka – ‘I just really loved watching her’

“I feel really happy for her,” the four-time major champion said. “I know last year was quite tough. She didn’t really go home at all. 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.

“That’s something I feel like she was super amazing for the sport, for me in particular. I just really loved watching her. Yeah, I think what she did was ideal. I think it’s cool to, like, leave the game when you’re No. 1. You feel like you have nothing left to prove, you feel like you accomplished everything that you wanted to.”

Iga Swiatek – ‘I really respect her’

“Actually she’s even saying that she doesn’t expect people to understand that because it’s pretty unusual situation,” the world No 2 said. “I really respect and I really think she’s brave that she has made this decision because with all the expectations around, I mean, there are not many people who would stop at this point and put their happiness in the first place.

“I think that’s an example not only for us tennis players or other athletes, but every person that they should put their own happiness. If they are satisfied or not satisfied, they should think about their goals, not really what world thinks. But that’s really hard when you’re professional athlete. That’s why I really respect that.”

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