Andy Murray has said he is “gutted for tennis” after women’s number one Ashleigh Barty announced her sudden retirement at the age of 25.
The Australian made the surprise announcement on social media, saying she was “absolutely spent” and now wanted to “chase other dreams”.
Barty’s decision has shocked the sport, as she retires as the best player in the world, and a four-time Grand Slam winner, with three singles and one doubles title. Her most recent triumph was winning the Australian Open earlier this year, becoming the first Australian to win the tournament in 44 years.
“I am so thankful for everything this sport has given me and leave feeling proud and fulfilled,” Barty said in her statement.
“I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself. I’ve said it to my team multiple times, ‘I just don’t have that in me any more.’ Physically, I have nothing more to give. I’ve given absolutely everything I have to this beautiful sport of tennis, and I’m really happy with that.
“For me, that is my success. Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way. I’ll always be grateful for the lifelong memories we created together.”
Murray tweeted his best wishes to the Australian but noted that the sport would suffer from her absence. “Happy for Ash Barty,” he said. “Gutted for tennis. What a player.”
Andy’s mother Judy also paid tribute to Barty’s achievements. She tweeted: “One of a kind. On and off the court. A wonderful role model for women’s sport.”
Romanian tennis player Simona Halep said: “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. What’s next for you? Grand Slam champion in golf?! Be happy and enjoy your life to the max. xo Simo”
Fellow pro Madison Keys said Barty was “one of the nicest people on tour”, tweeting: “An incredible tennis player but more importantly one of the nicest people on tour.
“Congratulations @ashbarty on an amazing career and good luck with what’s next!”