Ash Barty’s retirement bombshell has been met with shock but overwhelming support by her fellow elite athletes, congratulating the tennis star for bowing out on her own terms.

And after her foray into cricket following her earlier retirement, a number were quick to ask whether golf or AFL was next on the cards for the three-time grand slam champion.

Barty’s last triumph was at January’s Australian Open, where another great Evonne Goolagong Cawley fittingly presented her with the trophy.

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A long-time mentor for Barty, Goolagong Cawley said she was excited to see what the next chapter brought for the 25-year-old.

“I’m so supportive of Ash and making a decision that is the best for her and makes her happy,” the retired champion said.

“I can’t wait to see what the next chapter brings and to watch Ash achieve her dreams.”

The world No.1 was one of the most popular players in tennis circles, with long-time rival Simona Halep one of the first to reach out to Barty following Wednesday’s announcement on social media.

“Ash you know I have tears right? My friend, I will miss you on tour. You were different, and special, and we shared some amazing moments. What’s next for you? Grand Slam champion in golf?! Be happy and enjoy your life to the max xo Simo,” the Romanian posted on Instagram.

She was joined by fellow players Petra Kvitova, Karolina Pliskova, Madison Keys and the WTA, who said the world No.1 had left an “incredible mark on-court, off-court and in our hearts”.

Only one other woman has walked away from the sport while atop the WTA rankings: Justine Henin was No.1 when she retired in May 2008.

In a statement released by the WTA, chief executive Steve Simon called Barty “the ultimate competitor” and said she “has always led by example through the unwavering professionalism and sportsmanship she brought to every match”.

“We will miss her,” Simon said.

Alicia Molik, coach of Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup team, said Barty’s decision was “unusual, retiring at the top”.

“It’s pretty gutsy, it’s pretty noble,” Molik said.

“What an athlete, what a trailblazer and what a role model.”

Former top-ranked male Andy Murray also chimed in saying he was happy for Barty but gutted for tennis.

Australian of the Year, Dylan Alcott, who also retired following the Open, said he was proud of his good friend.

“Amazing tennis player but even better person. A champion in every sense of the word. Very proud of you mate,” the former wheelchair No.1 said.

Sam Stosur, another recent retirement from singles, praised Barty for following her heart.

“You’ve always done it your way so good for you to follow your heart and once again do it your way with this decision,” Stosur posted.

Barty is an avid supporter of AFL club Richmond, with many on social media suggesting she would be a good fit for their women’s team.

“Thank you for inspiring us all and good luck in the next chapter, @ashbarty. Always welcome at Tigerland,” the club wrote.

Outside of tennis others to show their love for Barty was world No.2 golfer Nelly Korda, suggesting the Australian pursue a new sports career.

“Time to hit the links! Congratulations on an amazing career,” the American wrote.

Former swimming great Ian Thorpe, who abruptly retired aged 24, said Barty was much loved.

“I have rarely seen an athlete being cheered on in the way you were at the Oz Open! I hope you’re cheered on in the next step of your life,” Thorpe wrote.