Aussie teenage tennis star Ashleigh Barty has announced she’s taking an indefinite break from the sport, giving no indication if she plans to one day return to the professional ranks.
The 18-year-old cited the need for a break from the circuit, which she has been on since the age of 13, as the primary reason for her decision.
The 2011 Wimbledon junior champion has struggled for form and motivation this season, which has seen her singles ranking drop from a career high 129th to 217th in the world.
The diminutive all-court player earmarked as a future champion has won just two matches from nine appearances since making her grand slam debut back in 2012.
She was a qualifier at last month’s US Open but was ousted by 30th seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the first round and has not played since.
“Since returning from the US Open my team and I have decided that right now it is best for me to take a break from professional tennis,” said Barty via a statement.
“Obviously this has been a very difficult decision with the Australian summer coming up, but after a lot of thought we feel this is the right decision.
“I’ve enjoyed some incredible experiences on the tennis tour and would like to thank my coach, Jason (Stoltenberg), and the team at TA (Tennis Australia) for all of its hard work and support throughout my journey so far.
“I will be following results closely and hope that the Aussies have a great summer and start to 2015.”
Despite her dip in singles form Barty’s performance in doubles has remained strong, with the talented youngster having reached three grand slam finals with compatriot and close friend Casey Dellacqua last year.
The pair also teamed up in the doubles for Australia in this year’s Fed Cup where they were unbeaten in two matches before the Aussies were knocked out by Germany in the semi-finals.
The news of Barty’s self-imposed hiatus has come as a surprise to the Australian tennis community but one that has been supported by the national body.
Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said: “All of us in the tennis family fully support Ash’s decision to take a break from professional tennis at this time, and we wish her all the very best.”