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Thanks for asking (again) but Ash Barty says she (still) won’t be returning to centre court

Blissfully busy and content off court, Ash Barty is adamant she won’t be joining the growing band of tennis super mums back on tour.

Jan 17, 2024, updated Jan 17, 2024
Former Australian tennis champion Ash Barty is seen during a Grilled promotional event in Melbourne, Wednesday, January 17, 2024. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING

Former Australian tennis champion Ash Barty is seen during a Grilled promotional event in Melbourne, Wednesday, January 17, 2024. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING

 

Fellow former Australian Open champions Naomi Osaka, Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber all made grand slam comebacks at Melbourne Park this week, among seven mothers in the 128-strong women’s draw.

But less than two years after abruptly walking away from the sport at just 25 and while a dominant world No.1, Barty insisted “I won’t be one of them” when asked, again, about making a comeback.

“I miss parts of it, but mostly I miss seeing my mates,” the three-time major winner told AAP on Wednesday.

“I miss seeing the girls that I’ve built such a relationship with over so many years, but a lot of my best mates have also retired now and they’re kind of moving on to their next chapters.

“We’ll still get out there and hit occasionally if anyone asks or any of my mates ask.

“But no, I’m enjoying what I’m doing now.”

Barty is immersed in her foundation, which she launched on Monday night in Melbourne alongside Evonne Goolagong and Pat Rafter.

But primarily the retired superstar is enjoying being a mother to six-month-old son Hayden.

“There’s nothing keeping me away. It’s not like I’m doing things to keep myself away from the court,” Barty said.

“I want be able to be there to raise Hayden and I want to be able to enjoy that.

“That’s what I want to do, plain and simple. That’s where my priorities lie now.

“I absolutely love being mum. There’s nothing else that I prefer to do.”

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Proving she’s still queen of the kids, the 27-year-old was swamped by a bunch of tennis-loving children hungry for tips and a Barty Burger on Wednesday when Grill’d chipped in $100,000 to help kick-start her other new pride and joy.

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The Ash Barty foundation is also consuming her, as well as denying the avid golfer the chance to further reduce her impressive three handicap.

“I’ve played once in the last seven months,” said the 2020 Brookwater A grade club champion.

“The foundation is not quite fulltime but I want to be involved.

“It was the reason I waited until I had finished playing and had retired so that I had more time to commit. It wasn’t something that I wanted to do just when I could fit it in.

“My dad’s a chair, one of my sisters is on the board, which is great, and the other one, we’re in discussions every day.

“I’m very grateful that we’ve got such an amazing team and it’s really nice to do it with people that I love and trust, and people that have the same philosophies and values.”With a goal of inspiring, educating and providing opportunities for the next generation, Barty said launching her foundation was a dream come true.

“To see it come to life is something I’m incredibly proud of,” she said.

“This almost feels like it can be more of an important contribution than hitting a tennis ball.

“I’ve always said that tennis was what I did, it wasn’t who I am.

“This is something that I get to do now and it’s a passion.”

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