Retired tennis Grand Slam champion Ash Barty is set to make her return to competitive sports when she tees it up as an amateur at next week's New Zealand Open.
Barty, who won three of the the four tennis Grand Slam singles titles, made the shocking decision to retire from the sport having won the Australian Open at age 25.
The Australian, who also won the French Open and Wimbledon, was the number one ranked women's player for 114 consecutive weeks, the fourth-longest streak in WTA history, but stepped away from the sport having said she was "fulfilled" with her career.
The 27-year-old is not just a talented tennis player, though. Barty stepped away from tennis in 2014 to play cricket in the inaugural season of the Women's Big Bash League and is an equally accomplished golfer, playing off a handicap of just four.
And she will now put those golfing skills to the test as an amateur at next week's New Zealand Open. The tournament will feature 156 pros who will all play with an amateur partner for the first two days. 40 Pro-Am pairings will make it through to round three, with only ten progressing to the final round at Millbrook Resort.
Although Barty has experience in high-pressure sporting situations, the former tennis player admitted she will still have to navigate some first-tee nerves.
"The New Zealand Open is a fantastic event and I really enjoyed my time there this year supporting our friend Louis Dobbelaar," she said.
"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-racking, 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."
In 2022, Barty played in the Icon Golf Series tournament in New Jersey alongside the likes of Harry Kane and Michael Jordan. Later that year she took part in the Celebrity fourball tournament prior to the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews.
Next week's event in New Zealand will also feature amateur appearances from prominent sporting figures such as Israel Dagg and Ricky Pointing.