Tennis world reacts to Ash Barty’s retirement

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World No. 1 Ash Barty announced her retirement from professional tennis Wednesday, spurring reactions from leaders across the sport.

Barty has spent 114 consecutive weeks atop the world rankings, good for the fourth-longest streak in the history of the WTA Tour. She trails just Steffi Graf (186 weeks), Serena Williams (186) and Martina Navratilova (156).

“With her accomplishments at the Grand Slams, WTA Finals and reaching the pinnacle ranking of No.1 in the world, she has clearly established herself as one the great champions of the WTA,” WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon said in a statement. “We wish Ash only the very best and know that she will continue to be a tremendous ambassador for the sport of tennis as she embarks on this new chapter of her life. We will miss her.”

Simona Halep, a two-time Grand Slam champion who currently sits at 26th in the world, said that she was in “tears” over Barty’s announcement.

“My friend, I will miss you on tour,” she wrote. “You were different, and special, and we shared some amazing moments.”

Andy Murray said that while he’s happy for Barty he’s “gutted for tennis.”

“What a player,” he wrote.

Madison Keys, who faced off against Barty in the Australian Open semifinal, called her “one of the nicest people on tour.”

Karolina Pliskova called it a “privilege” to share the court with Barty before wishing her “all the best” in retirement.

Petra Kvitova, who faced off against Barty on 10 occasions and won five of them, said that the Australian was showing “your true class.”

“I am so happy I could share the court with you,” she wrote. “Tennis will never be the same without you!”

Coco Gauff applauded Barty’s “incredible career” while also calling her an incredible person, wishing her well “in this next chapter.”

Jessica Pegula called her a “stud” for leaving the sport atop the rankings and “doing it your own way.”

“You gave all your heart to our sport and inspired so many along your journey,” wrote three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber. “You’re stepping away from tennis as a true champion and on your own terms.”

Tennis star Serena Williams said that she was “sad to read your decision” but is ultimately “happy for your new chapter”. Williams is a 23-time Grand Slam champion and joint record-holder for most consecutive weeks spent atop the world rankings at 186.

“Always your fan close up and afar,” she wrote. “Sending all my love.”

Barty is expected to address her retirement further in a press conference Thursday.