(March 23, 2022) MIAMI, Florida – It was Media Day at the Miami Open on Wednesday at Hard Rock Stadium. Players and media alike were still buzzing over Ashleigh Barty’s retirement announcement on Tuesday night.
American Danielle Collins began Media Day and she talked about Barty’s retirement: “Yeah, I mean, I think for someone to retire at 25, I think it really speaks to the way our sport empowers women. 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.”
“Yeah, I think, like I said, I thought it was really cool to be able to retire at 25 in this sport. All of the hard work and success that she’s had, she’s been at the top of her game for a long time.
“A little bit surprising, but yeah, I think I’m really excited for Ash to see what she’s going to achieve off the court and the next steps of her life.”
US Open champion Emma Raducanu of Great Britain: “I just want to wish Ash all the best because she had a great career. I think she set out to achieve everything, I mean, what she wanted to when she started playing the sport.
“I think she was a great player and she brought a lot of variety to the game. I really respected that. I took a lot of inspiration from her, just how she’s able to mix things up.
“Yeah, she was always really friendly to be around, as well, in the locker room. She taught me how to kick an Aussie football once, too. Yeah, it was really cool of her.”
“I think that Ash’s retirement just shows how personal everyone’s objectives and goals are. I feel like if I set out with a goal when I’m starting to play tennis, I achieve that, like, once I’m happy, it kind of makes sense to finish on a high, if you know what I mean. I feel like it is personal.
“For me, I want to be in the game as long as possible. I’m only 19. I’ve just come on tour, which is pretty young. Now I think the tour is getting younger. There are a lot of great players who are also young.
“Yeah, I want to be in the game till I’m in my 30s. We’ll see what happens and how long I can last, to be honest.”
“I actually really wanted to play Ash. I feel like because she plays so differently, I kind of — I was watching how she plays. I feel like it would be such a good challenge for me because it’s so different to what you kind of see out there on the tour.
“I really wanted to play her. Yeah, maybe like in the veterans or something.”
For World No. 2 Iga Swiatek of Poland, Barty’s retirement could place her at the top spot in the rankings. She talked about this during her pre-tournament news conference:
“To be honest, at first it was really emotional for me. I didn’t know about all the rules. I actually didn’t even know you could choose being removed because I didn’t follow any other athletes that were retiring. They were so high that it actually had a difference.
“Still, I mean, I don’t want to really talk about it because it’s Ash’s decision. I think she has all right to do, like, both things.
“Well, for sure it would be for me something special to be world No. 1. I never expected that, if it’s going to happen it’s going to happen that way.
“Actually after Indian Wells it became my goal. It’s pretty weird for it to be my goal for two days and it may actually happen that quick. But still it’s a longshot because it’s her decision. I think we got to wait for her to speak about that.
“But really yesterday when I heard the news, mostly I was really emotional, not because of my position, but more because of her retiring at such a young age. It was, yeah, pretty hard for me to digest as well.”
“Actually she’s even saying that she doesn’t expect people to understand that because it’s pretty unusual situation. Not completely, honestly.
“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 is not many people who would stop at this point and put their happiness on the first place.
“I think that’s an example not only for us tennis players or another 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 world thinks, yeah.
“But that’s really hard when you’re professional athlete. That’s why I really respect that.”
“I mean, you already know that I like to cry, so I was crying for a long time. Yeah, I mean, there was lot of confusion in me, for sure. But also, like, sadness because I always — I mean, when I think of the player that is really complete in terms of physicality, mentality, tennis-wise, I always thought of Ash and I always looked up to her. I mean, I still do.
“It would be really nice also to be able to compete against her for next few years and actually try to play better and better, to be able to beat her slice.
Yeah, I mean, we’re going to miss her, for sure.”
“It’s crazy. She previously, early on in her career, did retire as well. Now it’s obviously a lot different this time with her being No. 1 in the world. She still is very young.
“I don’t have any kind of inside information. I’m sure she’s thought a lot about the decision. I guess she thinks that’s what’s best for her. Happy for her. I’d still hold out hope if I was a fan that she might miss it and come back later on because there’s plenty of time for that.”
“My mom (Kathy May) was a top-10 player. I believe she retired when she was 24 or maybe even 25.
“This is such a stressful sport. Having to worry about defending your points, your ranking, your sponsor, it’s so stressful, especially if you are someone who expects a lot of yourself, puts a lot of pressure on yourself.
“It’s definitely very mentally draining and wearing to play the sport. I can definitely understand someone who’s accomplished a lot, done everything they probably wanted to do, being happy to call it.”
“Well, you know, first of all it was very unexpected and surprising. Ashleigh, she’s an amazing player on and off the court. We are very sad to see her retire because tennis, the WTA, the tennis world, we need her. She’s a great athlete. She brings excitement to the crowd on her matches.
“To see her retire like this so suddenly is a little sad. But I hope that she’s happy and I hope that she’s happy on her next step in her life. Hopefully one day, maybe if she wants to, she can come back. A know a lot of the players and tennis fans will be happy.
“Other than that I think 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. 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.”
“Ash Barty retirement announcement was very shocking to me. I found it through social media after scrolling my feed. I saw that video. I watched the entire video in disbelief because I couldn’t believe what I just saw.
“She’s been doing incredibly well. Honestly she’s at the peak of her game right now I think, having won Wimbledon, Aussie Open recently. I knew she would want to take a break after the Australian Open, which I guess is normal, having to reflect on all of these events that happened. Didn’t expect it to be coming anytime soon.”
“I haven’t thought about retiring anytime soon (laughter). Not about that.
“I obviously wish Ash the best. I was definitely surprised this morning when I saw it. I’m glad she was able to retire on her own terms, not due to injury or something. For me, that’s what I was the most happy about. I wish her the best in this next chapter.”
“I mean, actually, I can’t say that word, I was going to say that’s such a savage move. I was going to say something else, but I can’t .
“That’s such a savage way to leave, I shouldn’t say leave, but end your career on that. What sticks out to me the most about Ash, she’s such a nice person off the court. Obviously on court we know what a great player she is. But she is such a great person, so I wish her the best. I’m really excited to see what she has. I saw the video. She says she has some things planned. I’m excited to see what career path or things she has planned next.”
Four-time major champion Naomi Osaka told media that she is seeing a therapist since her heckling incident at Indian Wells last week.
“I feel better today. I think for me the situation in Indian Wells, I’ve kind of thought back on it. I realize, like, I’ve never been heckled. I’ve been booed, but not like a direct yell-out kind of thing. It kind of took me out of my element.
“I feel like I’m prepared for it now. I was kind of bracing myself before the match to just like know that’s a thing that could happen now.
“Yeah, I think I just needed to change my mindset a little.
“I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but I finally started talking to a therapist after Indian Wells. It only took like a year after French Open.
“Yeah, I don’t know, she kind of like told me strategies and stuff. I realize how helpful it is. I’m glad that I have people around me that told me to, like, go in that direction.
“But, yeah, I was basically just remembering all the things that she told me to do, just to take deep breaths and reset myself when I need to.”
“I feel like I’ve been trying a lot of different things because I tend to internalize things, and I also want to do everything by myself.
Wim (Fissette, Osaka’s coach) kind of put it in a really good way. He was like, You hire a coach for tennis, for fitness. The mind is such a big thing. If you can, like, get a professional to help you out .5 percent, that alone is worth it.
Osaka reflected on the Barty retirement later in her news conference after her first round win over Astra Sharma 6-3, 6-4.
“I would say I heard or saw the news last night, like 3:30 in the morning. I needed to get up to use the bathroom.
“My friend texted me. She’s like, Yo, do you know that Barty retired?
“I was like, Whoa, that’s weird.
“Then I went on Twitter and saw it was actually a thing.
“Yeah, I feel, like, really happy for her. I know last year was quite tough. She didn’t really go home at all. I think that certainly took a toll. But it was also really inspiring to watch how dedicated she was that entire year. I think she can leave with no regrets.
“That’s something I feel like she was super amazing for the sport, for me in particular. I just really loved watching her.”
“What do I take away for myself? I feel like she kind of I don’t want to say set the boundary, but she, like, knew what she wanted to do, if that makes sense. I felt like after you win the Australian Open, of course there’s sponsors that come and stuff like that. She clearly knew what she wanted to do.
“It’s going to be cool to watch what she does with the rest of — I don’t know if there’s going to be a new career or if she’s just going to be chilling, yeah.”
More to follow….