Ashleigh Barty Wimbledon 2021

Slam icon draws similarities between her and Ash Barty’s early retirements

Justine Henin admitted she was “surprised” by Ash Barty retiring and drew similarities between her retirement and Barty’s, saying “I can put myself in her shoes.”

Last month, three-time Grand Slam winner Ash Barty shocked the tennis world when she announced her decision to retire at the peak of her powers, aged just 25 years old and the current World number one.

However, Barty isn’t the only player to have cut her career considerably short. Back in 2008, the then World number one and seven-time Slam ace Justine Henin also retired early.

Although, Henin retired as she struggled to recover from an elbow injury, Barty retired as she wanted to “chase after some other dreams.”

In an interview with Eurosport, seven-time Grand Slam ace Justine Henin said¬†“Barty’s retirement isn’t good news for women’s tennis today. She was a girl who brought a lot of creativity, with an extremely complete game. And she had this consistency.

“Of course, I can put myself in her shoes because I stopped – not really in the same conditions, but I was young too, so I started again afterwards.

“We don’t know what the future holds for her – and I was surprised because Ash Barty seemed to be the one who was going to continue to stamp her authority on women’s tennis.

“The World number one, retiring so young, it’s always surprising, but at the same time Barty doesn’t necessarily do things the same way as the others.

“You have to¬†respect her decision, nobody can judge because we all live our careers in a different way. I must have been 25 (28) at the time too when I decided to retire from tennis.

“So of course there are a lot of similarities with Barty. That’s why I can totally relate to her and understand. I was clearly on the verge of psychological exhaustion.”

On her own retirement, Henin shared “I made my decision at Berlin airport. I thought about it for 30 minutes. So it happened very quickly.

“I felt like I’d sacrificed so much in my family and personal life, I had closed a lot of drawers in my personal life for tennis and it was time to sort out things in my personal life. And as long as I had this career, I couldn’t do that. So it was also a search for balance.

“I would have preferred to have the strength in hindsight to say ‘I’m taking a good break,’ but as I’m doing things at 300% and it’s often black and white with me, I made the decision to stop.

“I wanted to get out of the¬†rankings too, as soon as possible. It has to do with my personality.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.