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Putin accused of ‘ruining retirement plans’ of women’s world no.1

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty had reportedly planned to hang up her racket at a later datePutin accused of ‘ruining retirement plans’ of women’s world no.1

Putin accused of ‘ruining retirement plans’ of women’s world no.1

Australian tennis star Ash Barty. © Chris Hyde / Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin derailed the original retirement plans of women’s world number Ashleigh Barty, the Australian media have claimed, after the tennis star stunned the world this week by announcing she was calling time on her career at the age of 25.

The recently crowned Australian Open champion shocked the sport on Wednesday when announcing her retirement after a career which included three Grand Slam titles. 

«Today is difficult and filled with emotion for me as I announce my retirement from tennis,» Barty wrote in an Instagram post which was accompanied by an interview.

Yet as the star later revealed, her original plans to retire were seemingly changed when defending champions Russia were ejected from the Billie Jean King Cup as part of sanctions which followed Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.

That meant that Australia, as the highest-ranked semi-finalists last year, were given a bye to the finals to take Russia’s place.

Australia will now not play Slovakia next month in a qualifier for the tournament, with Barty having planned the fixture to be a farewell match given it was scheduled to take place in her home state of Queensland.

With no other tournaments on the near horizon, the developments prompted Barty to announce she was hanging her racket up earlier than expected.

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A post shared by Ash Barty (@ashbarty)

The Australian media directly accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of raining on Barty’s retirement parade.  

«Vladimir Putin, Russian invasion ruined Ash Barty’s dream retirement plan» ran the headline to one piece from News.com.au.

Yahoo Sports Australia went with «How Vladimir Putin ruined Ash Barty’s retirement plan».

«Remember the April BJK Cup tie in Brisbane canceled indirectly because of Russia’s banishment?» New York Times tennis contributor Ben Rothenberg asked on Twitter.

«Barty was intending it as a hometown farewell,» he added, while providing some of Barty’s quotes to reporters.

Barty herself mentioned neither President Putin nor Russia directly when explaining the turn of events on Thursday.

«Timing is everything, I’m a big believer in that,» Barty said. 

«After the Australian Open, I was really hoping that we’d get the opportunity to play a home Fed Cup tie but that wasn’t to be, that wasn’t the case and I just knew that for me, the time was right.

«I was preparing to play,» Barty insisted. «Obviously the event didn’t go ahead, which again throws a spanner into the works with my timing and my plans.

«I’d given absolutely everything that I could to this sport and I knew that it wouldn’t be fair to my team and to people who have invested so much time and energy into my life to not be 100 per cent committed for them,» Barty felt.

Due to how things have unraveled, Barty’s farewell still took place on home soil when she became the first Australian woman to win the women’s singles title at the Australian Open since her idol Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.

World no.1 Barty announces shock retirement aged 25

World no.1 Barty announces shock retirement aged 25

World no.1 Barty announces shock retirement aged 25

«There is no perfect way, there is no perfect timing but this was our perfect way, and it was a great finish,» Barty pointed out.

«That crowd (for) the final of the Australian Open was like nothing I have ever played in front of before and it was so much fun to enjoy that with them as well as my team. Yeah, it was a brilliant way to finish,» Barty added.

According to Barty’s coach Craig Tyzzer, Barty had asked if she could retire following her 2019 victory at the French Open, which means her bombshell announcement this week didn’t surprise him.

«After (winning) Wimbledon that was an obvious goal for us and once she achieved it and once we got to the Olympics, it sort of hit home for me that there wasn’t much left in her,» Tyzzer said.

«The motivation wasn’t there, except when she played doubles with Storm [Sanders] and mixed with John Peers, her singles really went by the wayside.

«She wasn’t fussed. So I felt that she had climbed where she needed to get to and it was going to be a hard slog to keep her involved,» Tyzzer admitted.

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