Ashleigh Barty stunned the tennis world when she announced her retirement from the sport while still ranked first in the world and fresh off a Grand Slam win at the Australian Open on home soil. Even after putting down her racquets, the 25-year-competitive old's spirit appears to be as strong as ever.
Ashleigh Barty became disillusioned with tennis in late 2014. It was a sport she adored and had participated in since she was five years old. She won the junior girls' Wimbledon title as a child prodigy and reached the doubles final of three Grand Slams as an adult. But the sport's grind and rigor got to her, and she retired to play cricket in the Women's Big Bash League. After 18 months, she returned to tennis.
In the Icons Series exhibition competition, the Australian declared she's ready to take on the world of golf, joining the likes of Harry Kane and Michael Phelps.
"It's such a unique opportunity to have fun, test yourself and compete," Barty told the media. "I hope through my participation in the series that we can encourage more women and girls to participate in golf around the world."
The Australian press has been buzzing with speculation about what the three-time Grand Slam winner would do next, with many pointing to golf as a possibility. She's already had professional cricket success and a tennis career worthy of the Hall of Fame, but the Australian shocked everyone again when she announced ambitions to write a series of children's books.
Barty, who has won three Grand Slam singles championships, including Wimbledon last summer, is an avid amateur golfer with a handicap of four.
She follows in her father’s footsteps. Her father, Robert, who had previously represented Australia as an amateur and had pondered turning professional.
The Icon Series will get off in June at Liberty National in New Jersey, with other events planned for Europe, Asia, and Australia.
According to reports, Barty wants to bring the event to Australia next year.
She's been tight-lipped about her post-retirement plans, but given that she lives on a golf course with her fiance, Garry Kissick, a PGA training professional, they're bound to incorporate golf in some manner.
Earlier this month, the three-time grand slam tennis winner, who plays off a handicap of five, won the women's category at her home club Brookwater, near Ipswich.
Karrie Webb, a seven-time major champion, believed Barty has the talent to make it on the LPGA tour after playing with her at Victoria Golf Club in 2019.
"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 said.
"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."