I'm so inspired by Ash Barty's decision...and here's why.

I’m so inspired by Ash Barty’s recent decision to retire from professional tennis. Whilst many news reports discuss the shock decision and question her choices, I cannot wipe the smile from my face.

And here’s why…..


At the age of 25 this young, talented, genuine, full of life woman, has put herself first. Her decision comes from her heart, from her gut, from a deep inner knowing that this is the right decision. When I listened to her announcement I could see and feel her conviction and her absolute 100% resolve, that this is what she wants. Ash Barty is in total alignment with her true self.


Despite public pressure and expectation to continue her Number 1 trajectory, at the absolute pinnacle of her tennis career, Ash has made a decision that goes beyond public understanding and thought. And I love her for this. To be so certain when you know that everyone else has other ideas for you and for what you represent, is absolutely mind-blowing and I’m in total awe of that. I know many people in their 40’s and 50’s that would struggle to make choices they know to be true for them, over expectations, myself included, and her certainty and respect for self-truth is incredible.


Ash Barty reminds us that there are many sides to our lives and personalities and that sometimes the other parts need to see the light of day. She has intense gratitude and sentiment for her tennis experiences and successes, and everything they have brought her. Ash acknowledges and respects the drive, the work and determination it took to get there and credits her team consistently for their support and love. But her decision reminds us that there are many parts that make the whole, and even when one part is more dominant and more publicly recognised, doesn’t mean the other parts don’t want to come out to play. With this decision Ash is saying to us all, I am more than just tennis, more than the Number 1, I have more to explore, more to learn and love, and I’m not willing to walk away from that. At 25…. this self-reflection is absolutely incredible. Who am I kidding, at any age this alignment is incredibly humbling.

When she won Wimbledon last year Ash has said she has achieved her lifelong dream. Something she worked for, visualized, and put everything into, her entire life. And with that win she goes on to share that she had a “perspective change.” The accomplishment of this dream could have gone in so many ways. Firstly, she could have said, I want that again, I want more, I want to win it twice, three times for 5 years. Alternatively, she could have felt despondent, “what’s next”, where do I go from here, I’m unsure what’s next for me. From what I observed in her announcement yesterday, this moment changed her outlook and gave her the realization that she has other dreams, other things she wants to chase in her life with the same gusto that she did that Wimbledon win. Above all else, she is number 1 in her own life and I’m in no doubt that whatever Ash sets out to achieve, she will succeed.


As I watched the news this morning, I heard reporters and journalists speculate about what’s next for her. What struck me is how we see people through filters and are more comfortable putting people in a box where we believe they fit. All the talk was about, could her next dream be golf, she loves golf, she plays golf, her husband caddies golf! Then there was the chat about, “how she could walk away from the chance to earn more money, more titles, more fame.” Somehow, I think they’ve missed the point entirely or certainly missed the heart of the woman they are speaking of. Obviously, whatever she is feeling inside is worth more than anymore paychecks or titles. What if her next dream is self-care, or to start a family with her fiancé, or to travel the world for fun, or to work with kids or to even spend a year just being still, being Ash. Can we just revel in the choice she has made for herself, see the peace that sits in her whole being as she announces her decision. I marvel at the gratitude that pours from this young woman and the grace from a human who values so much more in this life than fortune and fame. What a shining light she is, what an example to women, young and old everywhere.

I’m a tennis fan for sure, and just this January on a Saturday night in a Melbourne laneway, I sat outside an ice cream shop, on a milk crate, watching Ash win the Australian Open on my mobile phone. But today I’m an Ash Barty fan. Not just of the tennis great, but of this incredible young woman, who for me, represents the ultimate lesson so many women need to learn. Myself included.


That your whole life matters, all the parts of your life.


That your identity is made up of so much more than what you do.


That your dreams matter.


And no matter what you believe the expectations of your life are, and who you are trying to please, the only person you need to be accountable to is you.


That knowing voice inside yourself, that’s the only one you need to pay attention to.


Thanks for the A-ha moment Ash!


Love and light,

Jo

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