This is the world of tennis without its world number one. Ashleigh Barty decided to end her career at just 25 on Wednesday March 23. “Filled“, but “exhausted“, the Australian has finally ticked all the boxes on her list of goals. She may not be remembered for the length of her dominance, but she will have been with rare regularity on the circuit. A look back at a brief but successful career.
A rare figure of stability
If there is one aspect that will remain of Ashleigh Barty’s career, it is regularity. On a WTA circuit where outbursts are a must, the Australian has positioned herself as the safe bet. Since 2017, she has continued to progress until reaching the throne of world No. 1 on June 23, 2019, which she only released for a short month to Naomi Osaka in August of the same year.
From August 10, 2020 to March 23, 2022, Ashleigh Barty remained comfortably at the top of her sport. In total, these are 120 weeks of domination, including 84 consecutive just before bowing out. A longevity that we had more observed since the heyday of Serena Williams, between February 2013 and September 2016. Between their two reigns, six other players recovered the throne, each time in an ephemeral way (Kerber, Pliskova, Muguruza, Halep, Wozniacki and Osaka).
Ashleigh Barty has rarely disappointed. In 272 matches played since 2017, the Queensland champion has won 211, a success percentage of 77.5%. His flagship season remains 2021 with 42 successes for only nine defeats. 2022 was set to be a new vintage since she had simply won all of her 11 matches, straddling Adelaide and the Australian Open, which she won in passing.
A track record worthy of the greatest
Ashleigh Barty and her tricky sliced backhand who leave the WTA circuit, it is also the best record of the last four seasons which ranks the racket, with 12 tournaments won (15 in her entire career). In 2019, the Australian revealed herself to the whole world by winning her first Grand Slam tournament in France, at Roland-Garros. In the final, she crushed the Czech Marketa Vondrousova (6-1, 6-3). It will be necessary to wait until 2021 to see her again brandishing the trophy of a major.
At Wimbledon, on the surface which was proportionally the most successful for her (56 wins for 16 losses), the versatile Australian won her second major after a fine battle of three sets in the final against Karolina Pliskova. The third, most anticipated, arrived in 2022 and will remain as the end point of his career. On January 29, Barty was crowned at home at the Australian Open against Danielle Collins after an immaculate run, syears losing a single set. Enough to free a whole people who had been waiting for their champion since Chris O’Neil in 1978.
Devoid of weak points, the Australian built her reign by combining power and precision. She also relied on a formidable serve that made her theace queen in 2021, the player who has scored the most winning services over the season. Her very early ball grip and her very worked slice posed problems for all the players on the circuit.
Only one major will be missing from her collection, the US Open, of which she never passed the round of 16, but which she won in doubles, with Coco Vandeweghe in 2018. And if she has a Grand Slam less than Naomi Osaka, titled four times since 2018, Ashleigh Barty will not have gleaned all her titles on a single surface. She is only the fifth player in history to win three majors on different surfaces (hard, grass, clay) after Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams.
A star in Australia, but less known abroad
One of the peculiarities of his career is undoubtedly the general public’s ignorance of him. If Chris Evert, Serena Williams or even more recently Naomi Osaka have crossed the borders of their sport, we can say that this is not necessarily the case for the Australian. On the other hand, in Australia, the world number one is an absolute star, both in her performances and in her personality.
“She is the most beloved of Australia’s last great men and women“, affirmed Courtney Walsh, Australian sports journalist, with the newspaper The world. There has been a “Barty effect” in Australia. The tennis federation has announced a 30% increase in the practice of tennis among children in 2021, in the wake of its coronation at Wimbledon. An effect that is all the stronger with the young Aborigines who have found a champion in which to identify.
Herself of Aboriginal origin, Barty has been involved in the development of tennis with marginalized populations. And his rejection of the “star system” allowed him to build an immaculate reputation.
She had already retired in 2014
Ashleigh Barty wasn’t always a tennis player. In 2014, the Australian had put her high-level tennis career on hold for … cricket, a very popular sport in Australia and in which she was also able to play with the pros. She notably participated in the national championship with the Brisbane club, where she is from, playing around ten matches.
“It was too much and too fast for me to travel so much at such a young age. I wanted to experience life as a normal teenager“, she confided to Cricket.com. But she had ended up returning to the courts a little over a year after the start of this new experience, with her first steps in ITF tournaments, before launching what was to be the most sumptuous phase of her career. What cast doubt on the credibility of the announcement of the end of her life as a tennis player?