Australian tennis great Ash Barty has confirmed she will be making a sporting comeback on the golf course. The three-time grand slam champion will play at the pro-am tournament at the New Zealand Open in Queenstown next month.
Cricket legend turned commentator Ricky Ponting will also feature at the event which begins on February 29. Barty shocked the tennis world when she walked away from the sport at the peak of her powers and many have since speculated if she will return to the courts or begin another sporting venture.
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The three-time grand slam winner enjoyed a decorated sporting career before calling time on her tennis career after winning the 2022 Australian Open. Barty and her husband Garry Kissick - a professional golfer - then welcomed baby boy Hayden in September and following the birth of their first child, Barty turned her attention to launching the Ash Barty Foundation - a charity that aims to assist underprivileged communities and young people to chase their dreams.
Barty has always been an avid golfer, playing off a handicap of just four. She has long shut down a move to play the sport professionally but says she is excited for the pro-am although admits she is out of practice. "I've played once in the last seven months," Barty admitted last week.
The 27-year-old was present at the New Zealand Open last year as a spectator but will play at the event in 2024. “The New Zealand Open is a fantastic event and I really enjoyed my time there last year supporting our friend Louis Dobbelaar,” Barty told 7News.
“Having the opportunity to play in the pro-am event in 2024 is something I’m excited about, though I definitely need to start practising! Golf has always been a passion of mine, I feel fortunate to be able to play in events like the New Zealand Open and experience an incredible course like Millbrook.
"I imagine that first tee shot in front of everyone will be quite nerve-wracking, but once the first ball hits the fairway, hopefully things should settle down. My aim is to go out there and enjoy every minute of it and hopefully make the weekend pro-am cut." Barty previously played in the Icons Golf Series in New Jersey alongside other international sporting legends, including Ponting, swimming great Michael Phelps and English footballer Harry Kane.
Ash Barty full of hope for her foundation
Last week at the Ash Barty Foundation launch, the Aussie tennis great said it was a dream come true and hoped it would inspire, educate and provide opportunities for the next generation. "To see it come to life is something I'm incredibly proud of," she said.
"This almost feels like it can be more of an important contribution than hitting a tennis ball. I've always said that tennis was what I did, it wasn't who I am. This is something that I get to do now and it's a passion."
If our young boys and girls are looking for a role model, they could do a lot worse than Ash Barty. Champion tennis player 🏆 Pro Cricketer 🏏 and now Golf ⛳️
Play all the sports, kids! https://t.co/daPuotx6WJ
— Church & Oswaldtwistle CC 🟢⚫️ (@ChurchCricket) January 23, 2024
I miss her.
— Latunji (@lafile) January 24, 2024
She’ll have a 147 break and a nine-darter by the end of her career.
— Callum May (@callummay) January 23, 2024
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