'Never say never', Ashleigh Barty refuses to rule out a return to professional tennis

The world No.1 announced her shock retirement on Wednesday, suggesting she was ready to "chase other dreams", but her latest response suggests a tennis return could be on the cards.

Barty retired on Wednesday at the peak of her game, having won the Australian Open back in January - the third Grand Slam of her career.

It isn't the first time Barty has parted ways with tennis, following her hiatus in 2014 after the US Open.

Back then, Barty said "it was too much too quickly" for the teenage prospect, who had "been travelling from quite a young age".

She tried her hand at cricket during her break, and ended up playing for Queensland Fire after impressing the team's head coach with her batting.

After a two-year break, however, Barty did return to tennis, and she hasn't ruled out another return following her recent retirement either.

Ashleigh Barty of Australia poses with the champions trophy

When asked about the prospect of returning, Barty replied "Well, you never say never, it's a long way off."

The 25-year-old added that her plans at the moment include helping junior tennis progress in Australia, and that "seeing the smiles" on children's faces reminded her "of why I started playing".

"That's just a goal and a dream of mine, to be able to give back to the sport that has given me so much," she added.

"Obviously young girls and juniors is an area that I'm really interested in. Yeah, down the track I'm hoping I'll be able to contribute in some way."

After taking up cricket during her previous hiatus from the sport, Barty has been rumoured to be interested in playing golf this time around.

Childhood dream comes true as Ashleigh Barty reaches Australian Open final

However, while she didn't dampen those rumours, she did suggest more practice is needed if she wants to play professionally.

"You guys love to whisper, don't you? No, we'll wait and see. I've got to try and learn how to hit the middle of the club face before I can think of trying to get on the tour."

With Barty retiring, the world No.1 is expected to move on, with current No.2 Iga Swiatek the obvious replacement.

Regarding her successor, Barty said she'd be pleased for Swiatek to take her place, suggesting there was "no better person" to lead the sport.

READ MORE: World number one in waiting Iga Swiatek admits to mixed emotions on Ash Barty retirement

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