In typical, understated Ash Barty style, the former World No 1 announced on Instagram on Saturday night that she has married her long-time partner Garry Kissick, posting the caption ‘Husband and Wife’ to a wedding image of the happy couple.
He’s extremely patient with me, and when we met he didn’t know a lot about tennis. He’s, kind of, been thrown in the very deep end in understanding what the tour is like and how much we’re apart, but he’s the best person to have around in the sense of switching off from tennis, and being able to bring the fun and laughter. I certainly wouldn’t want to share this journey with anyone else. Ash Barty
They got engaged at the end of last year and had already set designs on a 2022 wedding even before Barty claimed this year’s first singles major on home soil at the 2022 Australian Open and then announced her retirement a few weeks later in March.
She has since settled into a new custom-built home, received the Officer of the Order of Australia title for her services to sport and youth development programs and taken part in the 8th edition of the nationally-televised Big Freeze, where she and other celebrities plunge down a water slide in costume to raise awareness and funds to fight Motor Neurone Disease.
In one of their most recent adventures, Barty and Kissick, both exceptional golfers, attended the 150th Open Championship, the year’s final men’s golf major event, at the prestigious St Andrews Old Course in Scotland earlier this month.
It has been a whirlwind of a year for the 26-year old Aussie, now crowned by tying the knot in a very private ceremony at a secret venue in Queensland, with a guest list that included Pat Rafter, Casey Dellacqua and Alicia Molik, and only close friends and family present at the small scale wedding.
The couple have been together since 2016, when they met at the Brooklands Golf Club where Kissick works, and they have a shared passion for a variety of sports.
Kissick took Barty to watch his beloved Liverpool in action at Anfield last year and, while she has always been keen to keep her private life out of the spotlight, the former Wimbledon champion spoke about their relationship in a recent interview with Vogue.
“He’s extremely patient with me, and when we met he didn’t know a lot about tennis,” said Barty. “He’s, kind of, been thrown in the very deep end in understanding what the tour is like and how much we’re apart, but he’s the best person to have around in the sense of switching off from tennis, and being able to bring the fun and laughter.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to share this journey with anyone else.”
Barty and Kissick went public with their relationship in 2017, attending the John Newcombe Awards together, where Barty won the first of her four Newcombe medals, an award that recognises the nation’s most outstanding player of the year.
She started this season with an 11-0 record and, with back-to-back titles at the Adelaide International and Australian Open ahead of shocking fans and pundits of her immediate retirement at the age of 25, while holding the World No 1 ranking.
Her retirement in March came when Barty was at the top of her game, holding down the world’s top ranking, and had after winning 3 of the sport’s majors – Wimbledon and the Australian and French Opens.
Barty had wrestled with her decision for months, only finalising her choice 2 months after her famous drought-breaking triumph at Melbourne Park, but the Queenslander didn’t completely shut the door on a return to professional tennis.
“I’d say you never say never [about a possible return],” she said. “I’d say the door is closed, but it’s not padlocked.
“I’m never one to absolutely say never, never, never. But, yeah, it feels like it’s closed.
“I feel like I’ve given absolutely everything to the sport and there is nothing more for me to give.
“But I know that tennis will always be a massive part of my life, and I’ll be able to contribute in different ways, which is maybe why that connection with tennis will always be there.”
Barty revealed her retirement decision in an Instagram interview conducted by close friend and former doubles partner Dellacqua, saying she would ‘chase other dreams’.
“There is no hiding behind anything for me,” Barty said at the time. “This is just a decision I’ve made and now, like every other person in the world, I look for what’s next.
“And that’s going to be a really exciting chapter.”
Barty won the season-ending WTA Finals event in 2019, collecting a $US4.42 million ($6.4 million) prize packet, which was the biggest individual cheque in tennis history.
A big sports fan, Barty is passionate about golf, Australian football and cricket.
In a recent interview, Barty was asked whether she might pursue a professional golf career.
“You never have that answer,” Barty told Sky Sports. “I love the sport, it has been a hobby of mine for a long time, but I don’t know if I will ever be fully committed to going out on the range, and doing the required practice and the discipline, but I love the sport.”
Three weeks ago Barty published the first of the ‘Little Ash’ series of children’s books, a collaboration with writer and editor Jasmin McGaughey and illustrator Jade Goodwin.
“Today’s the day!” Barty posted proudly on Instagram. “The first four books in the Little Ash series are out now from @harperkidsau @harpercollinsaustralia.
“I loved books growing up, and watching the joy my niece now gets from reading inspired this series.
“It’s been so fun adding elements of my childhood to these stories, in a way that I hope will make children smile.
“I want these books to help kids learn to be comfortable with themselves, and get the confidence to try new things.
“Thank you to @jasmin_mcgaughey and @jadey.draws for helping me bring Little Ash to life.”
“As a big reader growing up, books helped me escape and learn,” Barty posted. “That’s why it is important to me that the Little Ash series fosters a love of reading in kids.
“Including funny experiences from my childhood, I hope children can laugh along to these bright and colourful books. The illustrations are brilliant and the storytelling is incredible.
“The team has brought this vision to life in a way that means kids of all ages can relate to them and learn.”