Ash Barty On This Year’s AO: ‘I Haven’t Thought, I Wish I Was Out There’

‘Retiring was still the right decision.’

If there was a moment in time that might trigger FOMO in Ash Barty, you’d think that it’d be here at the Australian Open. We’re at Rod Laver Arena, celebrating the launch of her new Rado True Square x Ash Barty Limited Edition III timepiece, while below on the court, Novak Djokovic and Andrey Rublev play their quarterfinals match. It’s not just that the whole AO is a vibe, but it’s almost a year to the day that Ash made history by becoming the first Aussie in 44 years to win the Australian Open Women’s Single title. That would be FOMO-inducing for anyone, but the defending champ says it’s not the case for her.

“It’s strange coming back because it feels like it was so long ago and so much has happened between then and now,” she says of the past 12 months, which have included a surprise retirement announcement, the release of a memoir, My Dream Time, and the news she’s pregnant with her first child. “It’s certainly nice coming back [to the AO] now to be able to reminisce. Those memories come flooding back instantly – the feeling of walking out on the court, the feeling of a beautiful night like this, the crowd was crazy. Walking out into that environment on the Saturday night was like nothing that I’d walked into before. It was exceptional. Those are the memories that I have etched into my brain that I don’t think I could ever forget, even if I tried.”

But that doesn’t mean she feels like she’s missing out.

Ash Barty Rado
Ash Barty launching her new Rado True Square x Ash Barty Limited Edition III timepiece at this year’s Australian Open. Photo: Alessia Ferraro

“There are a lot of aspects [of playing tennis] that I don’t miss and there are also [aspects I do]. The people, I miss. I mean, it was really nice this week to actually have the time to catch up with a few of my mates that hadn’t seen in 12 months, that were here either still playing or with partners. I think I still miss that white line fever of planning with my coach, deciding how tactically we were gonna try and dismantle our opponent and that process of it.

“But I’m fulfilled. I’m so happy. And I think what was probably most pleasing to me is that there wasn’t a moment where I’ve watched a match, and I thought, ‘I wish I was out there’. I haven’t had that. So that’s really comforting knowing that 12 months on, it’s still the right decision. Yeah, I’m very, very happy.”

As for the future of tennis? Here’s what she has to say: “I think the women’s game is open, but it’s strong. What’s great about it is that there are contenders every single week. It’s not being dominated by a certain person. I think Iga Swiatek’s got the ability to do that – across all surfaces, I’m not quite sure yet. She’s still very young, she’s only been a pro for two or three years and she’s doing just fine. But she’s got the ability in her athleticism and it’s really changing the game. Coco Gauff as well – her athleticism is incredible. Emma Raducanu is not too different in that sense.

“I think you’re gonna see a big change in the women’s physical side of the game that’s gonna then allow them to be more demanding on the ball. [Elena] Rybakina – she’s gonna have to work harder and harder for her points, which will then, as well, improve her game. It’s certainly an exciting space.”

Check out Ash’s new Rado True Square x Ash Barty Limited Edition III timepiece here. And watch Elena Rybakina play Aryna Sabalenka at the Australian Open finals tomorrow night.

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