At the Miami Open Players React To Ash Barty’s Retirement With Both Shock And Admiration - UBITENNIS
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At the Miami Open Players React To Ash Barty’s Retirement With Both Shock And Admiration

Exiting the sport on her own terms, Barty’s legacy is one which could inspire the next generation.

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Ashleigh Barty (AUS) playing against Katerina Siniakova (CZE) in the third round of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 6 Saturday 03/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Media day at the Miami Open is usually about the upcoming tournament and what lies ahead but there was another prominent topic this year – Ash Barty.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion has stunned the tennis world by announcing her retirement at the tender age of 25. Barty’s decision to step away from the sport occurrs at the time when she is the current world No.1, as well as the reigning champion at two Grand Slam tournaments (Wimbledon and the Australian Open). Explaining her decision, the Australian said in a video interview uploaded to her Instagram account that she wanted to enjoy the next phrase of her life as ‘as Ash Barty the person, not Ash Barty the athlete.’

Inevitably Barty’s retirement will have ramifications for the women’s Tour. Out of nowhere Indian Wells champion Iga Switek now finds herself on the verge of claiming the world No.1 ranking when her rival is officially removed next week. Raising questions about if the Pole is ready to deal with the increased spotlight of being No.1 will have on her.

“She’s even saying that she doesn’t expect people to understand that because it’s a pretty unusual situation,” Swiatek said of Barty’s retirement. “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 the world thinks. But that’s really hard when you’re a professional athlete. That’s why I really respect that.”

It is only the second time since the formation of the WTA Tour that a player has announced their retirement whilst at the top of the rankings. The first was Justin Henin, who did so in 2008 before returning two years later.

Barty’s last competitive match was in the final of the Australian Open when she defeated Danielle Collins to become the first home player to win the women’s title since 1978. The American is making a return to the Tour in Miami after missing a month due to illness. Reacting to Barty’s retirement, Collins explained why she believes the situation is a true testament of how tennis ‘empowers women.’

“I think for someone to retire at 25, I think it really speaks to the way our sport empowers women,” she 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.”

Another player to speak of their admiration for Barty’s decision is Naomi Osaka, who kicked off her Miami Open campaign on Wednesday with a straight sets victory. Osaka, who is just 18 months younger than the Australian, said leaving the sport whilst at the top was an ‘ideal’ way to go.

“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.” Osaka commented.

Looking ahead Barty is keeping coy about what she will be doing outside of tennis. However, some of her peers believe her legacy could help inspire the next generation of players on the Tour, including US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez.

I’m just happy for everything that she’s accomplished, and the great role model she is to not only the players but also to the next generation,” Fernandez said. “I see how she works. I see how professional she is. I know what is my next step, what I need to do to hopefully achieve what she has done.”

US Open champion Emma Raducanu also took note of Barty’s decision to take breaks throughout her career. The most notable being between 2014-2016 when she briefly embarked upon a career in professional cricket. Those breaks did wonders for Barty’s mentaility and her game. Something Raducanu can relate to.

I think that definitely probably helped,” she said. “If you get oversaturated with one thing, it’s not healthy with anything you do. I feel like that just shows, if you take time off, you come back, you’re hungry, you’re ready. She basically cleaned up when she came back.
“I took 18 months off in 2020. I started in 2021. Because I had that desire to really be out there on the court, I was so hungry, I feel like I had some great results last summer as well. Yeah, it just shows you don’t need to be only tennis, tennis, tennis.”

Barty ends her career with 15 WTA singles titles and a further 12 in the doubles. She has earned more prize money in her career ($23,829,071) than any other Australian player – male or female – in history.

Grand Slam

(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) The Wimbledon Clash Between Djokovic And Sinner Could Have Been Better

It was an epic five-set clash but imagine how better the match would have been if both were playing well at the same time…

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Hall of Famer Steve Flink and Ubitennis’ Ubaldo Scanagatta analyse the dramatic events that unfolded on Tuesday at Wimbledon.

 

Top seed Novak Djokovic staged an epic comeback to oust Jannik Sinner in a match of two halves. Meanwhile, Cameron Norrie brought delight to the British fans.

On the other side of the draw, how will Rafael Nadal fair against the in-form Taylor Fritz? The Spaniard recently sidestepped a question about a potential new injury. 

As for the women’s draw, Ons Jabeur made history by becoming the first Arab player to reach a major quarter-final. She will next play 34-year-old mum-of-two Tatjana Maria who had never been beyond the third round of a major until now. 

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WIMBLEDON: 10 Facts About Semi-Finalist Ons Jabeur

All you need to know about the Trailblazing Tunisian who has created history at The All England Club.

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image via twitter.com/wimbledon

Second seed Ons Jabeur achieved a new milestone for both her and her country at Wimbledon on Tuesday. 

 

The world No.2 battled back from a set down to defeat Marie Bouzkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, to reach the last four of a major event for the first time in her career. Jabeur has now dropped only one set in five matches played and is the highest ranked player remaining in the draw. Her major breakthrough comes seven years after she made her Grand Slam debut at the 2015 Australian Open. 

“I played really good from beginning of the second set, especially having a early break kind of helps me gain confidence,” said Jabeur.
“I know it wasn’t easy playing Marie. She gets all the balls and doesn’t make, to win a point, easy for me. I’m glad I stepped in with my game. I was more aggressive in the second set, and especially tactically I was playing some angles that she didn’t like much.”

To mark Jabeur’s Wimbledon milestone, here are 10 facts to know about her:-

  1. She is the first North African player – male or female – to reach a Grand Slam semi-final. The last woman from the entire African continent to reach a major semi-final was Amanda Coetzer at the 1997 French Open. 
  2. Her win over Bouzkova is Jabeur’s 26th Tour-level win on the grass.
  3. Jabeur has now won 83 matches over the past two seasons. This is more than any other player on the WTA Tour. 
  4. Has won 21 out of her last 23 matches.
  5. She is the only Tunisian woman currently ranked in the world’s top 700.
  6. Jabeur had failed to win back-to-back matches on her three out of her four previous appearances at Wimbledon in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She reached the quarter-finals in 2021.
  7. Coming into Wimbledon she has already earned more than $6.2m in prize money in her career.
  8. She has won three Tour titles in Birmingham (2021), Madrid (2022) and Berlin (2022). 
  9. Has beaten a top 10 player four times in her career – Dominika Cibulkova (2017 French Open), Simona Halep (Beijing 2018), Sloane Stephens (Moscow 2018) and Karolina Pliskova (Doha 2020).
  10. In October 2021 she became the first Arab player (mae or female) to crack the world’s top 10 in tennis. 

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Tatjana Maria – Reaching Wimbledon Semi-Finals is ‘Amazing’ But It Doesn’t Beat Parenthood

The underdog is enjoying her best-ever run at a major 15 years after making her debut.

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Image via twitter.com/wta

Germany’s Tatjana Maria reveals people once doubted her ability to return to tennis after having her first child. Now a mother-of-two, she has secured a place in the Wimbledon semifinals. 

 

The fairytale run of the world No.103 continued on Tuesday when she ousted compatriot Jule Niemeier 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in her quarter-final match. Until the tournament, Maria had never been beyond the third round of a major event. However, that changed with high-profile wins over Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko prior to Niemeier.

“It’s amazing. I mean, I tried to calm down a little bit in the locker room and to realize something, but it’s still hard to realize it,” she said of reaching the last four at Wimbledon.

Whilst some players prepare for their Grand Slam matches in the gym, Maria’s routine is somewhat unique. She began her day by taking her 8-year-old daughter to her tennis lesson. It wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also has a 15-month-old baby.

“Outside of the court, nothing changes for me for the moment,” she said.  “I try to keep this going, everything the same. We keep going (to the tennis lessons) even if I’m playing the semifinals.”

Incredibly the 34-year-old returned to the circuit following maternity leave less than a year ago. It was during that absence that she decided to switch to a one-handed backhand. She has been ranked as high as 46th in the world and has two Tour titles to her name. 

“A lot of people who never believed I would come back. This was already after Charlotte and when I changed my backhand,” she said.
“I showed it last time already that I am back. I reached the top 50 with Charlotte, and now I’m back with my second child. Still, everybody was doubting.’
“I’m still here and I’m a fighter, and I keep going and I keep dreaming.”

Relishing in her best-ever performance at a major event, Maria is another example of a player having a breakthrough later in their career. To put her run in perspective, in the Open Era only five other women have reached the semifinals at Wimbledon after turning 34.

However, in Maria’s eyes, her achievements on the court can’t beat her top priority off the court.

“To be a mum is for me on the top of my life. So I think it helps me in tennis too because now my priority is my kids,” she explains. “I play tennis, I want to do my best, that’s all that I want. But my kids are the priority.’
“If I go out there, I want my kids to be happy, that they are healthy, that everything is okay. That’s the most important thing for me in my life.”

Maria made her Grand Slam debut back at Wimbledon in 2007. 

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