Ash Barty has categorically ruled out ever making a return to professional sport, shutting down once and for all the speculation she could switch to golf.
The Queenslander shocked the sporting world earlier this year when she announced her retirement from tennis at age 25, just after winning the Australian Open.
In the months that have followed, rumours have been rife that Barty will make a switch to professional golf.
She has been spotted on the golf course a number of times in recent months, playing in the Icons Series event in the United States and appearing at St Andrews to cheer on Cameron Smith at The Open Championship.
But in an interview with 101.9 The Fox Melbourne’s Fif, Fev and Nick on Monday, Barty put the speculation firmly to bed and made the staggering revelation that she’ll never play professional sport again.
“You guys just can’t accept that I don’t want to play professional sport anymore,” Barty said in response to a question from Brendan Fevola.
“I love golf, it’s a hobby of mine. It will not be my profession, I have no intention of making it my profession but I hack around once a week if I can – and I play off four.
“There’s no need, there’s no desire for me to play professional sport, particularly golf. I love it as a walk-around with my girlfriends and friends but yeah, not for me.”
When asked if she still would have retired if she lost the Australian Open final, Barty had no doubts.
“My decision was the same, I knew that was my last Australian Open and, in a way it freed me up to be more myself that I could have ever been in my life and just play completely with no consequence,” she said.
“Go out there and enjoy it and play with real freedom and that in the end the helped me out a lot.”
Ash Barty ends speculation about switch to golf
Speaking after playing a round at St Andrews last week, Barty said: “I love my golf, it’s a hobby.
“It’s something I love to play socially with my friends on some of the most beautiful courses around the world. But certainly not something I want to take too seriously.
“This is fun. I love it. It’s always been a hobby of mine so it’s nice to get to experience some really cool things like this today.”
Barty is enjoying her life in retirement so much that she didn’t even watch the Wimbledon finals – including compatriot Nick Kyrgios against Novak Djokovic.
“I didn’t watch this year’s Wimbledon finals,” she told The Guardian.
“Sorry to disappoint. Obviously I was rapt for Ons (Jabeur) and Elena (Rybakina), who are both brilliant girls.
“And it was obviously awesome to see Nick, who I’ve known for over a dozen years, get to the final.
“But since retiring I’ve probably watched as many matches as I did when I was playing, which was slim to none.
“Occasionally we’ll have it on as background noise but it’s very seldom that I’ll sit down and watch a match from start to end with any interest. I hit enough tennis balls in my life. I don’t need to see others hitting them as well.”
Barty revealed she has no regrets about her decision to walk away from tennis and is loving the slower-paced life with fiance Garry Kissick at home.
“I knew it was the right time for me. It was what I wanted to do. And I know that a lot of people may still not understand it,” she said.
“But I hope they respect that in the sense that it was my decision. And yeah, it’s been incredible. It’s been everything that I’ve ever wanted.”
In a separate interview with Channel 9 she said: “Just actually being in my kitchen, being in my house – cleaning – I find it really therapeutic.
“I love cooking, I love just being home.”