John McEnroe fears Ashleigh Barty’s retirement could ‘hurt’ Iga Swiatek and women’s tennis

Iga Swiatek chats to the press Credit: Alamy
Iga Swiatek chats to the press Credit: Alamy

Iga Swiatek is likely to win a few more Grand Slams as she is “by far and away the best player” in women’s tennis, but John McEnroe feels Ashleigh Barty’s retirement has robbed her of a true rival.

The Pole dominated the 2022 season as she won eight titles – including the French Open and US Open – while she also enjoyed a 37-match winning streak between February and July.

Swiatek will no doubt be the player to beat at next week’s Australian Open and former world No 1 McEnroe is confident she will add to her tally of three Grand Slams over the next few years, although he does have a warning for her about her schedule.

“I think right now she’s by far and away the best player, she’s a fantastic athlete, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a young woman get slide into the corners, it reminds me of Novak quite a bit,” he told Eurosport.

“So I would be surprised if she didn’t win a couple more French Opens at least, and she’s learned to play on hard courts so there’s no question that she’s the favourite in every tournament she plays.

“She’s got to be careful with her schedule, I don’t think she’ll go on 37-match winning streaks as much because now obviously people are going to be gunning for her more, but I’ll be very surprised if she doesn’t win a bunch more majors.”

Swiatek rose to No 1 in the WTA Rankings in March last year after Barty stunned the sporting world when she announced she is quitting tennis at the age of just 25 – just weeks after winning the Australian Open.

Seven-time Grand Slam winner McEnroe feels Barty’s retirement has hurt women’s tennis and could also hurt Swiatek’s career in the long run.

“I think when Ash Barty retired that obviously sent shockwaves because here is a young woman at 25 that had come off winning Wimbledon, then winning the Australian Open and you think ‘Ok she’s going to the US Open in the next year and it’s just a matter of time’,” he said.

“Obviously, I hope she’s happy, you never want to see someone walk away from it that young because then you’re like ‘what’s wrong with the women’s game that the No 1 player walked away from the game aged 25’?

“We had that issue too because my buddy and my rival Bjorn Borg walked away and never played a major after 25. It would hurt me, and my career, I believe.

“Just not having that rival, I believe it hurts the sport, and there’s reasons that we can’t get into, there are a lot of reasons, there’s never one reason, and there’s no one for Ash Barty either, but hopefully everyone will look at things to make sure that these women on the tour are being taken care of to the best of their ability so they feel as comfortable as possible doing their thing.”

READ MORE: Iga Swiatek: Biography, Lifestyle, Lovelife, Net Worth, Career, Endorsements

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