Ash Barty is returning to the world sporting stage, this time wielding a golf club rather than a tennis racquet.
The former world No.1 will play in a teams exhibition event in New Jersey from June 30 to July 1, alongside some of sport’s biggest names.
Barty, who announced her shock retirement last month aged just 25, will be a headline act in the Icons Series which will be played in the US for the first time.
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Team USA, captained by 1992 Masters Champion Fred Couples, will take on a Rest of the World team captained by four-time major winner Ernie Els.
The late Shane Warne has played in a previous edition while this time Manchester City soccer manager Pep Guardiola, boxer Oscar De La Hoya and retired swim great Michael Phelps will line up.
The June tournament is a nine-hole team match-play format at Liberty National.
Barty is reportedly looking to bring the event to Australia next year.
She has been coy on her post-retirement plans, 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 three-time grand slam tennis champion won the ladies competition at her home club Brookwater, near Ipswich, earlier this month, playing off a handicap of five.
Seven-time major winner Karrie Webb played a round with her at Victoria Golf Club in 2019 and said 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.”
Cricket open to Barty return
Earlier in April, Australia’s World Cup-winning cricketers declared they would welcome Ash Barty’s return to cricket – but only on the three-time major winner’s terms.
Barty rocked the sporting landscape when she announced her retirement from tennis in March, hanging up her racquet on top of the sport as world No.1.
Among those surprised were Meg Lanning’s squad in New Zealand, many of whom played with or against Barty during her stint in the Women’s Big Bash League.
“I was surprised. I think we all were,” Lanning told AAP.
“You don’t expect someone who’s going so well and dominating to call time. It’s a very brave call.”
Barty spent a season with the Brisbane Heat during a sabbatical from tennis as a teenager, when she struggled to deal with the relentless demands of life on tour.
Her best knock of 39 came against Lanning’s Melbourne Stars, when she was bowled by England’s Nat Sciver – two combatants in Sunday’s World Cup final in Christchurch.
Lanning said she admired Barty’s approach then and now.
“If she wants to come and have another crack at cricket (we) would certainly be interested in talking to her,” she said.
“She was pretty good at last time she played. She seems very talented at most things she does. Let’s see what happens.”
Showing her unique talents, Barty the golfer won the ladies competition at her home club Brookwater, near Ipswich, last weekend, playing off a handicap of five.
Ellyse Perry, who like Barty has competed in two sports at an elite level, commended Barty’s ability to compete on her own terms, walking to the beat of her own drum.
“There’s a general expectation you’ll play for an extended period of time and go for as long as you possibly can. That’s the norm,” she said.
“She genuinely tends to buck the norm a little bit and do what’s best for her which is just really cool.”
Perry said it was most important that Barty continued to follow her own path if she chose to resume a career in competitive sport.
“It sounds like golf is in with a better chance (than cricket),” she said.
“It’d be really nice for her to be able to do what she wants to do.
“There’s speculation around what sport she’s going to play next or what she’s going to do. Hopefully, she just gets to find that out for herself and do exactly what she’s got planned.”