Just a month after she shocked the tennis world by announcing her retirement from the sport, former world No.1 Ashleigh Barty is returning to the spotlight with a golf club instead of a racket in hand.
Captained by two time Masters champion and former world no. 1 Ernie Els, Barty will join a roster of sports stars at the Icons Series debut US event, a 10-hole team match-play tournament which will take place in New Jersey from June 30 to July 1.
Former world No.1 Fred Couples will captain Team USA, which includes Olympic great Michael Phelps, boxer Oscar De La Hoya, former NFL star Ben Roethlisberger and TV personality Michael Strahan.
Meanwhile, on Team Rest of the World, Barty will join Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, Tottenham’s superstar striker Harry Kane, and boxer Canelo Alvarez.
In a video explaining her decision to retire from tennis at the age of 25, Barty said she had “a perspective shift in me in the second phase of my career, that my happiness wasn’t dependent on the results, and success for me is knowing I’ve given absolutely everything I can.”
Earlier this year Barty won the Australian Open and her retirement announcement came after she had won three major singles titles in the last three years.
“I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself. I’ve said it to my team multiple times, it’s just I don’t have that in me anymore,” said Barty in March when she retired.
“I don’t have the physical drive, the emotional want, and everything it takes to challenge yourself at the very top of the level anymore, and I just know that I am spent. I just know physically, I have nothing more to give. That, for me, is success,” she said.
She added that she had been thinking about retirement for “a long time,” and the decision was cemented after winning Wimbledon last year and the Australian Open this year.
Those victories were “my perfect way to celebrate what an amazing journey my tennis career has been,” she said.
Barty has won three major singles titles — the 2019 French Open, the 2021 Wimbledon and the 2022 Australian Open.
In total, she has won 15 singles titles and 12 doubles titles on the WTA Tour, and was the first Australian to win the Australian Open singles title since 1978.
But Barty’s prodigious talents are not just limited to the tennis court — she also played cricket professionally for the Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash League.
She is also a keen golfer — something it seems she will be focusing more on now.
In 2020, Barty won the women’s championship at the Brookwater Golf Club near Brisbane and 15-time major winner Tiger Woods once reportedly described her as having a “great swing.”