Ash Barty has paid tribute to Iga Swiatek and the rest of the WTA Tour, saying it is possibly stronger than it has ever been before.
In recent years the WTA have emerged from an era dominated by Serena Williams and, to a lesser extent, Maria Sharapova and become one of the most difficult sporting competitions to predict.
Many have suggested that is down to the overall standard dropping since Serena Williams stepped back, but Barty believes it is down to strength on the tour, not weakness.
“Iga Swiatek is an incredible talent, an exceptional human and a lovely girl,” Barty said. “I love her and her team, and I couldn’t be more proud that she took over the No 1 position, because she plays the sport in the right way and has so much energy and charisma.
“But the depth in women’s tennis at the moment is great too. We’ve come from having one or two players dominating to there being more unpredictability.
"And that’s not because the tour is weak. In fact, it’s because the tour is so strong. Everyone in that top 40 to 50 bracket is so exceptionally good that week to week they could all be top‑10 players.”
Ash Barty shocked everyone when she decided to retire from tennis in March this year, but she was adamant it was the right time to go.
Is there anything she misses about tennis, though? “I definitely miss seeing my mates," she said.
"We spent so much time together and all of a sudden I’m living in a different corner of the globe. But retirement has been a really seamless transition.
"Instead of spending a few hours on the practice court every day I just get into different routines. And because I knew it was coming for quite a while, there wasn’t much of an adjustment.”
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