Ashleigh Barty: Simona Halep makes brilliant joke about shock retirement

Simona Halep made a brilliant joke after fellow tennis star Ashleigh Barty announced her retirement from the sport.

Barty shocked the sporting world by announcing she would step back from tennis aged just 25-years-old.

The Australian is a three-time Grand Slam winner, having triumphed at the French Open in 2019, Wimbledon in 2021, and the Australian Open in January.

In a video posted on Barty’s social media channels, she revealed she was “absolutely spent” and “physically I have nothing more to give”.

“I’m so happy and I’m so ready. I just know at the moment in my heart, for me as a person, this is right,” she said. “I know that people may not understand it. I’m OK with that.

“Because I know that Ash Barty the person has so many dreams she wants to chase after that don’t necessarily involve travelling the world, being away from my family, from my home, which is where I’ve always wanted to be.”

Halep responded to the announcement with a heartwarming message on Twitter, which included a joke about Barty moving on to become a “Grand Slam champion in golf”.

“Ash, what can I say, you know I have tears right? My friend, I will miss you on tour.

“You were different, and special, and we shared some amazing moments. What’s next for you? Grand Slam champion in golf?! Be happy and enjoy your life to the max xo Simo”.

Barty and Halep have only played each other four times on the WTA Tour, with the Romanian winning the head-to-head 3-1.

But Halep has an understanding of Barty’s career that few others will have – she was also a world number one tennis player, having occupied the top spot twice between 2017 and 2019.

Barty has remained world number one since winning her first Grand Slam at the French Open in 2019 – a run of 114 consecutive weeks.

Only Steffi Graf, Serena Williams and Martina Navratilova have enjoyed longer streaks as the women’s world number one.

Barty has stepped back from tennis before, calling time on her career in the sport after the 2014 US Open.

Still just a teenager, she chose to play professional cricket for the WBBL team Brisbane Heat instead, before returning to tennis in 2016.

Barty soon rose up the rankings, becoming the humble three-time Grand Slam champion we know and love today. She will be missed from the world of tennis.

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