Ash Barty's new teammate lifts the lid on 'weird' retirement call

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Ash Barty, pictured here speaking to the media at Kooyong in Melbourne in 2022.
Ash Barty speaks to the media at Kooyong in Melbourne in 2022. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

South African cricket great AB de Villiers has spoken out about Ash Barty's retirement from tennis ahead of teaming up with her for a golf event.

Barty shocked the sporting world earlier this year when she announced her retirement from tennis at age 25.

Speculation immediately began swirling that she was eyeing off a switch to another sport, with golf the most popular theory.

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And that theory only intensified when she announced she will be playing in the inaugural Icons Series golf event in New Jersey in June.

Freddie Couples will captain a USA team against a Rest of the World team - skippered by Ernie Els and featuring Barty and De Villiers.

Speaking this week about Barty's retirement, De Villiers said it was a "weird one to explain".

"I think the best answer is that every person has their own way of manoeuvring through their career, some as long as possible," the cricket great told AFP.

"The whole world respects her decision. I would like to think stepping away can be a relief but it is an incredible age to retire at."

De Villiers said he hasn't had any second thoughts since bringing down the curtain on his own stellar career, which saw him captain South Africa in all three formats.

"I feel relief sitting here," he said.

"I am feeling quite happy I made the right decision even if I miss the game and will be forever grateful to the sport.

"But similar to Ash there is a peace of mind where I am at.

"I am really happy to look back on my career with fond memories. There are no regrets. Yes, I made mistakes but no regrets."

AB de Villiers and Ash Barty, pictured here in Brisbane.
AB de Villiers has spoken about Ash Barty's retirement call. Image: Getty

Ash Barty fuels speculation about switch to golf

Barty will be one of the headline acts in the Icons Series, which will be played in the US for the first time.

The late Shane Warne has played in a previous edition of the event, while Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, boxing icon Oscar De La Hoya and retired swimming champion Michael Phelps will all line up for the 2022 event.

The June 30-July 1 tournament is a nine-hole team match-play format at Liberty National, with Barty reportedly looking to bring the event to Australia next year.

She has been coy on her post-retirement plans after quitting tennis, although they are sure to involve golf in some way as she lives on a golf course with her fiance Garry Kissick a PGA trainee professional.

The Australian Open champion won the ladies competition at her home club Brookwater (near Ipswich) in March, playing off a handicap of five.

Ash Barty, pictured here at a promo event for the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne.
Ash Barty at a promo event for the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei via Getty Images)

Seven-time major winner Karrie Webb played a round with her at Victoria Golf Club in 2019 and told AAP that Barty had the talent to make it on the LPGA tour.

"She's a really handy player and just that one day I could tell if she puts some time into it she will be a great player," Webb told AAP.

"It was everything - she hit the ball a long way - but a lot of athletes are very hand-eye co-ordinated and they get out there and they're fairly decent at hitting the ball.

"When it comes to the finesse shots, sometimes that's where they struggle, but she's got good hands from how she plays tennis.

"You could tell she had good hands and she'd developed a good short game and that just needs sharpening."

with AAP

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