Australia’s world number one Ash Barty has retired at the age of 25 and at the peak of her game, citing the fulfilment of her tennis goals and fatigue with life on the Tour.
She quits with 15 titles, less than two months after winning the Australian Open, her third Grand Slam singles triumph following Wimbledon in 2021 and the 2019 French Open.
“I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself … I don’t have that in me anymore,” she said in a video posted on her Instagram account on Wednesday.
“I don’t have the physical drive, the emotional want and everything it takes to challenge yourself at the very top level any more. I am spent.”
It marks Barty’s second retirement from the sport, having walked away from the game as a teenager in late-2014 after becoming disaffected by the Tour.
She returned in 2016 and rose rapidly up the rankings, earning global acclaim for her brilliant tennis and fans’ affection for her unfailing good sportmanship and laid-back demeanour.
She spent a total of 121 weeks as world number one and appeared destined for more success in the game’s biggest tournaments.
WATCH | Barty ends Aussie drought with Australian Open victory:
However, she never made any secret of her dislike for the touring life and her battles with homesickness.
“Ash Barty the person has so many dreams she wants to chase after that don’t necessarily involve traveling the world, being away from my family, being away from my home, which is where I’ve always wanted to be,” she said in the video, interviewed by her close friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua.
“I’ll never, ever stop loving tennis, it’s been a massive part of my life, but I think it’s important that I get to enjoy the next part of my life as Ash Barty the person, not Ash Barty the athlete.”
‘What a player’
Barty suffered depression on the Tour after turning professional as a teenager, leading her to quit and briefly reinvent herself as a professional cricketer in her home state of Queensland.
When the COVID-19 pandemic halted elite tennis in 2020, she took nearly a year off from the game to spend time with family rather than rejoin the circuit after it resumed.
“I know I’ve done this before, but in a different feeling,” she said.
“I’m so grateful for tennis, it’s given me all of my dreams, plus more, but I know the time is right now for me to step away and chase other dreams and to put the racquets down.”
As the second Aboriginal Australian to win a Grand Slam title, following in the footsteps of the great Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Barty has also become an idol for her country’s Indigenous population.
Barty’s bombshell triggered tributes from players and officials.
“Happy for @ashbarty, gutted for tennis,” said Briton Andy Murray. “What a player.”
Happy for <a href=”https://twitter.com/ashbarty?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@ashbarty</a> gutted for tennis 🎾 what a player❤️
WTA boss Steve Simon said Barty always led by example “through the unwavering professionalism and sportsmanship she brought to every match.
Her retirement echoes Justine Henin’s decision to quit in 2008 as a 25-year-old world number one with seven Grand Slam titles. Henin came out of retirement in 2010, inspired by fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters’ comeback.
2005 U.S. Open champion Clijsters retired in 2007 at the age of 23 but returned after a two-year hiatus to claim another three Grand Slam titles.
Warriors top Mavs in Game 5, advance to NBA Finals – TSN
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — As the clock ticked down the final seconds, Klay Thompson began dancing on the sideline before nearly being moved to tears during a celebration with his teammates.
After two major surgeries and two years of grueling rehabilitation, Thompson is rounding back into form and shot the Golden State Warriors back into the NBA Finals.
Thompson shimmied his way to 32 points and the Warriors advanced to their sixth finals in the past eight seasons by beating the Dallas Mavericks 120-110 in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals on Thursday night.
“It’s hard to put into words really,” Thompson said. “This time last year, I was just starting to jog again and get up and down the court. Now to be feeling like myself, feeling explosive, feeling sure in my movements, I’m just grateful.”
Thompson tore his left ACL during a season-ending Game 6 loss in the 2019 NBA Finals against Toronto and then tore his right Achilles’ tendon just before the start of the 2020-21 season. After Golden State missed the postseason in both seasons he was sidelined, Thompson finally returned to action in January.
The performance against the Mavericks showed he is getting close to returning to his old level of stardom.
Thompson scored 19 points in the first half, including a 3-pointer that he punctuated with teammate Stephen Curry‘s signature shake as the Warriors raced out to a 17-point halftime lead and coasted the rest of the way.
“You could see how much was missing the last couple of years,” Draymond Green said. ”We’re lucky to have the Klay Thompson we know back because we know how good he is.”
Andrew Wiggins added 18 points and 10 rebounds, Green scored 17 points and Curry had 15 points and nine assists. He was named the MVP of the series.
Luka Doncic overcame a slow start to score 28 points for the Mavericks. Spencer Dinwiddie added 26.
After missing the playoffs in 2020 and ’21 in back-to back injury-plagued seasons, the Warriors are returning to a familiar stage. They join the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls of the 1990s, Magic Johnson’s Lakers in the 1980s and Bill Russell’s Celtics in the 1950s and ’60s as the only franchises to make it to the NBA Finals at least six times in an eight-year span.
“For our team, our guys, especially the core group, to be part of that six times in eight years, I don’t even know what to say,” coach Steve Kerr said. “It just takes an enormous amount of skill and determination and work.”
Golden State will host the winner of the Eastern Conference finals between Boston and Miami on June 2 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The Celtics hold a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 at home on Friday night.
The Warriors followed their pattern from the first two rounds by bouncing back after squandering a chance to end a series on the road by winning at home. Golden State is now 9-0 at the Chase Center this postseason, tying the 2017 team for the the most consecutive home wins in a single postseason in NBA history.
After making just seven 3-pointers in the first four games of the series, Thompson had eight this game for the record-setting fifth time in the playoffs.
The last two have come in clinchers the last two rounds against Memphis and Dallas, prompting the question on whether his nickname should switch from “Game 6 Klay” for his history in that game to “Clinching Klay.”
“I’m satisfied with ‘Game 6 Klay.’ I don’t need another nickname,” Thompson said with a smile. “It’s nice not having to bring him out yet.”
Thompson gave the Warriors a 13-point lead in the first half when he hit one from the corner before dancing and added two early in the third quarter for a 23-point lead.
Dallas cut a 25-point deficit down to eight in the final minute of the third quarter but couldn’t get over the hump in the fourth.
“I don’t like losing, especially not like this,” Doncic said. “I played terrible. But if we’re talking about our season, I’m really proud of this team. … Nobody had us here. But I promise we fought until the end.”
Doncic had a rough start, shooting 2 for 10 in the first quarter. His eight misses were tied for the most in the opening quarter of a playoff game since LeBron James missed all nine of his attempts in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against Atlanta in 2015.
Doncic was held to six points in the first half, his lowest opening half of his postseason career, on 2-for-12 shooting before finding his stroke in the third quarter.
“We need Luka to go big a lot of nights just to give us a chance, and unfortunately the ball just didn’t go for him tonight,” coach Jason Kidd said. “I think he carries the load as well as anyone, and I think for us as an organization, we’ll help lighten that load as we go forward.”
With Otto Porter (left foot) sidelined for a second straight game, the Warriors got a big boost in the first half from 19-year-old rookie Moses Moody.
Moody scored all of his seven points in the second quarter with his 3-pointer giving Golden State a 56-38 lead. Moody scored just six points the first three games of this series for the Warriors before scoring 17 the past two games with Porter sidelined.
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Avalanche fan makes signs to support Kadri – NHL.com
DENVER — Adrienne Ruth wanted to let Nazem Kadri know she and all Colorado Avalanche fans had his back and decided to do something about it.
Ruth, an Avalanche season ticket holder, painted a sign with a personal message for the forward, and printed up 300 flyers at her local Office Depot saying “Stand With Naz” for Game 5 against the St. Louis Blues at Ball Arena on Wednesday.
The signs were placed on seats before the game, and fans held them during the 5-4 overtime loss. They were Ruth’s response to taunts and threats directed at Kadri after Game 3 of the series in St. Louis on Saturday.
In that game, Blues goalie Jordan Binnington sustained a lower-body injury at 6:45 of the first period after being knocked over by teammate Calle Rosen and Kadri, who was skating hard for a rebound.
“After everything that happened before Game 4, I was upset,” Ruth told NHL.com on Thursday. “I usually have a sign for Naz for most games, so I knew I was going to have something [for Game 5], and I had a few people in the Avs community reach out and ask, ‘Do you have any ideas?'”
Ruth’s personal sign read: “The ultimate measure of a person is not where one stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where one stands in times of challenge and controversy. #StandWithNaz” It’s a slight reworking of a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.
Kadri had his first career Stanley Cup Playoff hat trick in Game 4, a 6-3 Avalanche win on Monday.
“We take threats made to any of our players or other club personnel seriously,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told Darren Dreger of TSN on Monday. “We are in touch with the St. Louis Police Department and they are employing enhanced security procedures both at the arena and in the hotel.”
The Avalanche lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 heading into Game 6 in St. Louis on Friday (8 p.m. ET; TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS). With a win, they would reach the conference final for the first time since 2002.
Ruth, who also makes and sells Avalanche-related goods through Etsy, said Kadri’s wife, Ashley, reached out to her thanking her for her support.
“I’ve gotten to know her. I told her, ‘I’m planning on doing this, just so you know,'” Ruth said. “She said it was awesome to see.”
Ruth said the overall response has been “phenomenally positive.”
“To quote Naz, for those who hate, there are still going to be haters. There are still going to be those who disagree with it, don’t understand it or try to make it about something else but that’s pretty small voiced,” she said. “I’ll say even with the devastating loss (in Game 5) I woke up with a pretty full heart. Our news cycle is full of the bad. It’s nice to see the goodness making the news cycle.”
‘Play La Bamba, baby’: Edmonton erupts as Oilers return to final four – Sportsnet.ca
The last time the Edmonton Oilers played in the Western Conference Final, Connor McDavid was all of nine years old, head coach Jay Woodcroft was a first-year video coach with the Detroit Red Wings and goalie Mike Smith was cutting his pro teeth in that noted hockey hotbed of Iowa.
Sixteen years after the Oilers’ most recent trip to the NHL’s final four — which ended with a Game 7 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Final — Edmonton is going back to the Western Conference Final after a dramatic 5-4 overtime win in Calgary against the Flames on Thursday.
After years of playoff heartbreak and frustration for fans with the star-studded team unable to do much in the post-season, the win in Game 5 in the Battle of Alberta set off huge celebrations three hours north of the Saddledome.
The hockey community was abuzz on social media after McDavid’s OT winner.
Canadian soccer star Alphonso Davies, who grew up in Edmonton, was celebrating the victory after a rough day for the national program — which saw Canada cancel a friendly against Iran in the aftermath of major political pressure. He engaged in a little trash talk with Calgary’s Sam Adekugbe, a Canadian teammate.
It also was a special day-before-birthday present for young Ben Stelter, the Oilers’ superfan who is battling brain cancer.
The win also was a boost for a city that had negative news headlines earlier in the day when Alberta’s government invoked the province’s Police Act to force Edmonton City Council to come up with a plan in the next two weeks to tackle a spike in crime.
Now, the Oilers become Canada’s last hope to win the country’s first Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens hoisted the trophy in 1993.
Warriors top Mavs in Game 5, advance to NBA Finals – TSN
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