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Barty locker room rumours revealed


While Australia was stunned when the three-time grand slam champion posted a video on Instagram revealing she was walking away from professional tennis — again — at just 25, some inside the sport weren’t as gobsmacked.Watch Tennis Live with beIN SPORTS on Kayo. Live Coverage of ATP + WTA Tour Tournaments including Every Finals Match. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >Veteran tennis reporter Jon Wertheim, of Sports Illustrated, said Barty’s abrupt call to quit less than two months after winning the Australian Open wasn’t as big a bombshell as most of us thought, suggesting rivals in the locker room last summer suspected she was ready to give it all away.“Here’s the truth: While the Australian media has already described this as a ‘shock announcement’, it is anything but,” Wertheim wrote.“Even as Barty was dominating the Australian Open in January, rumours whipped through the players’ lounge that she might gather the trophy and mic-drop retire.”Pointing out Barty had already retired from tennis once to play professional cricket, and spoken openly about the gruelling demands of travelling and her love for the simplicities of home life, Wertheim added: “If you were scripting endings, what would be more climactic than a prototype fair dinkum Aussie winning her country’s major — the first homegrown champ in more than 40 years to do so — and exiting gracefully?”Tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg speculated the statement Barty released earlier this month announcing she was going to skip major American tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami “didn’t quite add up”, suggesting something like a retirement call may have been in the works. “It didn’t quite ring totally correct, her statement about why she was pulling out, saying she hadn’t physically recovered from the Australian Open,” Rothenberg said on his No Challenges Remaining podcast.“Because she won it so breezily. She didn’t drop a set, she didn’t have any obvious or any clear injury issues.“We maybe interpreted it as if she just hadn’t gotten in the gym and just hadn’t been recalibrating, or wasn’t ready to travel and wanted to cut down on her travel. We were reading things into that.“That was a sign that something was up.“We did have conversations, a couple of people at Indian Wells … speculating what might be going on with Barty.“Not to say there was no tea leaf reading because that’s not true, but certainly I think the abruptness of this retirement on the eve of the Miami tournament she was defending, so soon after winning the Australian Open … it’s still jarring and it will take some processing.”Writing for The Guardian, Tumaini Carayol was another who put Barty’s retirement in perspective.“While Barty’s decision to retire on Wednesday at the age of just 25, as the No. 1 player in the world and during such a beautiful moment in her career, is a shock on the surface, the manner of her departure fits perfectly with the way she has conducted her career,” he wrote.“Since 2014, when as an 18-year-old she took an indefinite break from the sport because of burnout and depression, her message has been consistent. She has worked hard, with ambition and drive, but her priorities have remained her family, personal happiness and mental wellbeing.”Aussie tennis great Rennae Stubbs suggested Barty’s experiences during Covid — particularly in 2021 where she was forced on the road for the year, unable to come home — helped clarify what she wanted from life. “She really struggled through the pandemic as well, having to stay away from Australia so much and not see her family,” Stosur told Sunrise on Thursday morning. “That really weighed on her as well.”Because she’s only 25, rumours and speculation will abound that Barty could still yet return to the sport in a way that so many female players before her have. Think Martina Hingis, Justin Henin, Kim Clijsters and Martina Navratilova.Reporters and many on social media have already questioned whether Barty will need to scratch her competitive itch again down the track.But that talk is for another day and now, it’s time to simply say thanks for the memories, Ash.

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