Ash Barty makes emphatic call on full-time return to tennis amid sad twist at Wimbledon

The Aussie has no intention of coming out of retirement.

Ash Barty's eagerly awaited return to Wimbledon as part of the legends' invitational event has been put on hold due to rain. And the Aussie also rained on tennis fans' parade by declaring a return to full-time competition is not in her plans.

Barty stunned the tennis world in 2022 when she announced she was retiring from the sport two months after winning the Australian Open in what marked her third grand slam title. But the news that she's returning to the courts at Wimbledon sent tongues wagging that a comeback may be on the cards.

The 2021 Wimbledon champion is partnered with best friend Casey Dellacqua at the legends tournament which features two groups of eight pairs playing in a round-robin format. The top duo from each group will qualify for the final and have a chance to win a share of the £35,000 ($A64,800) prize for first place. Each pair will pocket a guaranteed £24,000 ($A45,800) between them.

Pictured Ash Barty
Ash Barty has shut down talks that she is considering coming out of retirement. Image: Getty

Barty and Dellacqua made three grand slam finals together during their doubles playing days together, including the 2013 Wimbledon doubles final. Both have since gone onto the next chapters of their lives, with Barty getting married and having a child and Dellacqua also entering motherhood and pursuing a media career as a courtside reporter.

Barty and Dellacqua are set to play at least three matches as part of the women’s doubles tournament, the former’s first return to tennis action since calling time on her career. But upon arrival at the All England Club, the Aussie quickly poured cold water on hopes a return to professional tennis is on the horizon.

“No this is the comeback, this is the only comeback,” Barty told Channel 9. “For an exhibition, for fun, for enjoyment, to entertain people who are at Wimbledon and to enjoy the whole event. They are there obviously to watch the best players in the world go about their business and see who the champion will be, but I am excited to play a very small part in it.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 28: Ashleigh Barty of Australia is interviewed by Casey Dellacqua following her Women's Singles Quarterfinal match against Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic on day nine of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 28, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Ash Barty will partner best friend Casey Dellacqua in the Wimbledon legends invitational event.

"It’s bizarre to be back but (I am) very excited nonetheless. Obviously, the tournament reached out and it’s a very special event, exciting, it gets so many of the good ex-players back together to go and enjoy the grass.

"I of course, accepted, said: ‘Absolutely I will be here’. But I did request if I could play with Casey and get the old band back together, but it’s going to be nice to get out there with Case and strike a few, I hope she has been practising because she’s got a lot of load to carry.:"

While a return to professional tennis is not on the cards, Barty did suggest she may continue competing in invitational tournaments in the future. "Maybe Andy Murray will play in the invitational with me here next year?” Barty told Express Sport. But for now, Barty is happy being a mother and pursuing goals off the court.

Returning to Wimbledon as the mother of a one-year-old boy Hayden, Barty has been consistent in the message this tournament is not a prelude to a proper competitive comeback. But tennis legend Kim Clijsters - another former world No.1 who once felt she would never return after becoming a mother only to make a stunning grand slam-winning return - believes Barty may get the competitive itch and make a comeback, much like what mum of two and former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki did last year.

"It sounds very similar to me many years ago," said Clijsters. "First of all, I'm excited she's back. I never got to play against Ash, but I've practised against her before, so it's exciting to have her playing on the Legends Tour.

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"A few years ago I was the youngest legend out there, but I'm definitely not any more. It's cool - and who knows? Last year, seeing Caroline Wozniacki practice in between our legends matches, we were all like, 'What are you doing? Why are you practising this much?'

"So there is definitely a part of me that hopes she gets triggered by the challenge and the adventure that it is to come back on tour with a family. It will be interesting. I don't know if she has any desire. I hope I get to play against her and have a chat."

with AAP