Tennis icon Billie Jean King revealed she’s “very upset” Ash Barty retired after admitting players shouldn’t go out on top.
The 79-year-old former world number one said Barty is “so young, she’s great for the sport.”
“I was very upset she retired, she’s a great athlete but more importantly I do want her to be happy,’’ King said.
“I think people should not be encouraged to go out on top.”
Ash Barty announced her retirement from professional tennis at age 25 back in March last year, after becoming the first Aussie in 44 years to win the AO singles title.
“Today is difficult and filled with emotion for me as I announce my retirement from tennis,” Barty wrote on social media.
“It’s given me all of my dreams, plus more, but I know that the time is right now for me to step away and chase other dreams and to put the racquets down.”
The Australian favourite retired once earlier in her career, quitting to play professional cricket.
But she rediscovered her love for tennis and made a comeback, storming to No. 1 in the world.
However, King said her decision to retire at 32-years-old back in 1975 was a mistake, the Herald reports.
“Bill Bradley, he was a basketball player, had a book out and I wish I’d read it before I retired,” she said.
“He talked about sport’s like a lifetime and you should play as long as you can … it’s like a life.”
King shared appreciation for Belarusian player Victoria Azarenka who returned to the courts after having a child.
“She’s persistent and loves the sport, being older she’ll appreciate more what’s happening,’’ King said.
King joined members of the Original 9 at Federation Square in Melbourne as guests at the AO Inspirational series.
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