Ash Barty has caught the tennis world off-guard by announcing a surprise U-turn that she is taking time away from the WTA Tour.
Ash Barty has released a statement to announce she has pulled out of big WTA tournaments in the United States and plans to take some time away from the WTA Tour.
The World No. 1 caught the tennis world off guard on Friday when she confirmed she will not compete at Indian Wells this month, beginning March 9.
The tournament is often referred to as the “fifth grand slam”.
It is a major backflip for the 25-year-old, who three weeks ago confirmed she was returning to the Californian tournament after also skipping it in 2021.
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The tournament last month released a statement from Barty where she said: “Indian Wells is definitely at the top of the list when it comes to favorite stops on tour.
“My team and I were disappointed to miss the October event but we look forward to returning in March.”
However, Barty’s situation has changed and the three-time major champion has also pulled out of the WTA Tour event in Miami — another WTA 1000-ranked tournament.
It was expected to be her return to the WTA Tour after she sat out the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy last month.
In a statement released by the WTA Tour on Friday, Barty said she pulled out because her body is not up to it.
“Unfortunately my body has not recovered the way I’d hoped after the Australian Open and I have not been able to adequately prepare for Indian Wells and Miami,” Barty said.
“I don’t believe I am at the level necessary to win these events and as a result I have decided to withdraw from both tournaments.
“I love these events and am sad not to be there competing but getting my body right must be my focus.”
Barty would have been seeking a third straight title in Miami later in March and said she hoped to be back on court representing Australia in the Billie Jean King Cup in April.
Barty has been enjoying her time away from the tennis court following her historic victory at the 2022 Australian Open and her return is now uncertain.
She last week visited Uluru and Alice Springs in her role as Tennis Australia’s First Nations ambassador.
Barty had been enjoying some casual celebrations and family time in Queensland and even said she is planning to marry her longtime partner Garry Kissick sometime this year.
“After missing the BJK Cup last year I can’t wait to wear the green and gold again,” she said.
In January, Barty became the first Australian to win her home Grand Slam in 44 years. She was 5-1 down in the second set against American Danielle Collins but came storming back to triumph 6-3, 7-6 (7/2).
Barty captured her third Grand Slam title after her breakthrough French Open success in 2019 and Wimbledon last year.
She joined Serena Williams as the only active players to win majors on all three surfaces.
Collins also pulled out of Indian Wells due to a nagging injury. Her status for Miami remains uncertain.
Barty is set to join Belgian great Justine Henin in equal-seventh place for the total number of weeks (117) spent at No. 1 in the WTA rankings.
— with AFP