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In a shocking announcement, tennis superstar Ash Barty says she is retiring at age 25

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Back in January, Australian tennis fans got to celebrate a homegrown champion.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER: Ash Barty is the Australian Open Champion.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

That's Australia's own Ash Barty, the world's number one player, also a winner of Wimbledon and the French Open, who at age 25 has just announced she is leaving the sport.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ASH BARTY: I'll be retiring from tennis, and it's the first time I've actually said it out loud. And yeah, it's hard to say, but I'm so happy, and I'm so ready.

SHAPIRO: On Instagram yesterday, she said she was physically spent and ready for the next phase of her life.

SUMMERS: During the professional tennis phase of her life, she was known for keeping her public image focused on her successes on the court, not in courting celebrity.

JON WERTHEIM: She was known for this blazing authenticity. She played on her own terms. She ran her career on her own terms. She knew what she liked. She knew what she didn't like and she really sort of was - she was the boss.

SHAPIRO: Jon Wertheim is a writer for Sports Illustrated and analyst for the Tennis Channel. He says although the announcement may come as a surprise, there are positive ways to look at it.

WERTHEIM: It speaks to the strength of women's tennis and of women's sports that they create a star who feels comfortable and is sufficiently, you know, wealthy and satisfied that at age 25, she has the confidence and the sense of self to say, you know what? I'm good here. Enough is enough.

SHAPIRO: Wertheim says Barty's early retirement ultimately reflects well on her legacy, and the reaction to it testifies to how popular women's tennis has become. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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