Ash Barty has laughed off the prospect of a tennis return, content in motherhood and unswayed by good friend Caroline Wozniacki’s own feel-good comeback story.
Australia’s former world No.1 and three-time major winner spoke to media on Friday to endorse the return of the Brisbane International as a standalone event to kickstart the tennis season.
Fresh off a dominant Australian Open win, Barty shocked with her sudden retirement in March last year.
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Asked if she had itchy feet, the 27-year-old quickly shut down talk of a return after the birth of son Hayden in July.
“I don’t have the time to train, prepare and have so many good memories on this court and I get to create new ones now,” she said while fellow former No.1 Pat Rafter stood alongside her at the Queensland Tennis Centre.
“Certainly not. Pat might be more likely than me (to make a comeback).”
Tennis greats Barty and Rafter endorse the return of the Brisbane International. Credit: Getty Images
Danish champion Wozniacki retired in 2020 and had two children before bursting back onto the scene as a 33-year-old with a run to the fourth round at the US Open this month.
She beat Petra Kvitova along the way and was only stopped in three tight sets by eventual champion Coco Gauff, 14 years her junior.
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Barty watched with interest but said it didn’t stir anything inside her.
“I’m not coming back,” she said with a smile.
“I was really happy for Caro; a dear friend of mind and seeing her back doing what she loves is awesome.
“She has a couple of kids a bit older than Hayden but I am not coming back, no.”
Barty with her beautiful bub, Hayden. Credit: Instagram
In Barty’s absence the Australian women’s contingent has thinned, long-time injuries to high-class pair Daria Saville and Ajla Tomljanovic meaning there are no Australians in the top 100.
“There’s plenty coming through and it takes time to understand how you think you can fit in, grow into yourself,” Barty said.
“I’m excited for the next five or 10 years to see where they can get to.”
Barty’s former sparring partner Aryna Sabalenka overtook Iga Swiatek as world No.1 following her runner-up effort at Flushing Meadows.
“The game’s adapted, it’s grown; there’s more of a blend in the top 10 of women that can use different styles, go to plan B and C to adapt,” Barty assessed.
“Big hitters like Aryna are doing well, others are using flair like Ons (Jabeur) and Iga.”
– With AAP
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