Pete Sampras played his last game in New York, at the U.S. Open final on September 8, 2002. He beat Andre Agassi 6-3 6-4 5-7 6-4. He had just celebrated his 31st birthday. Back then, retiring at that age was not surprising. And this despite the fact that his rival, of whom I spoke before with the league, left the stage at the age of 36. On the other hand, if it happened today, the commentators, of whom I consider myself one, would say that “Pistol Pete” left very soon. Not to mention Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, who has made the best start to the season since the start of his career, will turn 36 in June. Novak Djokovic will turn 35 in May and still looks far from physically retiring. In short, the longer it lasts, the higher the retirement age for tennis.
That’s why when Ashleigh Barty, not even 26 years old (she will celebrate them on April 24), announces that she is stopping, it’s called “kek thing”.
All of these ingredients are not enough to provide the much needed motivation
The first feeling is surprise. I heard the news open my eyes and look at my phone, where I had received a WhatsApp message from my son, who lives on the other side of the world, 7 hours ahead of us: “Ash Barty retired from professional tennis. “I admit it was a shock. I also admit that Ashleigh Barty didn’t make me vibrate at all, and yet it was a surprise to hear this news. And I’m amazed at this information.”
She has just won the Australian Open, which has not happened to an Australian since 1978 and the victory of Christine O’Neil. Therefore, he breaks an even older record (5 years) than if a Frenchman won Roland-Garros this year. And that at 25 years old. In addition, he had already won two other Grand Slam titles, the first at Roland-Garros in 2019, followed by Wimbledon in 2021. And, finally, (no pun intended), he is currently No. 1 in the standings. world. At some point, you wonder what else you need to continue. Are not all these ingredients enough to give the necessary motivation to carry out efforts, which by the way, did not seem disproportionate?
Hence the second feeling that this news gives me: that of disappointment. Deciding to stop playing tennis when he masters his sport and is only 25 years old, Ashleigh Barty disappoints me. How can you consider yourself a competitive person and stop like that? Am I the only one who thinks this doesn’t make sense? If they had given me a clear reason, I might not have had the same reaction, but after listening to it, I’m all but convinced. He says that he no longer has “the physical motivation, the emotional will and everything necessary to overcome himself at the highest level. I’m exhausted. I have nothing else to give on a physical level. ” To this I reply that sometimes it is necessary to go further. I don’t think he realizes how privileged he is. I feel like I hear someone talking about not wanting to get hurt. And yet, it’s the game, my poor Ashleigh! And obviously you got it right. So why give up?
What are these dreams?
She had all the cards in hand to become one of the greatest players of all time. What ? Based on 2 or 3 Grand Slam titles per year, in 10 years, I could have finished with twenty more titles. Which would have brought him dangerously close to Margaret Court 24. If that’s not a necessary motivation, I don’t understand much anymore. Again, if the explanations had been more understandable, like “I’m pregnant and I want to be a multimare and full time,” okay. But he never talked about it. He only spoke of his desire to “pursue other dreams that do not necessarily involve traveling the world.” This sentence is not clear! What are these dreams? Start a family? So why not say it? Revive as a cricketer? So why not say it?
But without mentioning a specific reason, with the exception of physical and mental fatigue, which can be cured with a pause, it leaves room for imagination. And most importantly, it doesn’t allow people to really understand it. I hope, for her, that she makes the right decision. But for now, I find it as incomprehensible as it is irrational.