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'Nerve-wracking': Barty comeback revealed

Russell Gould -

Retired grand slam champion Ash Barty is preparing for a "nerve-wracking" experience when she makes her competitive sporting comeback, on the golf course in New Zealand.

Barty, who shocked the sporting world when she announced her retirement, aged just 25, following her Australian Open triumph in 2022, has been announced as a headline act at the New Zealand Open in Queenstown in February.

The three-time grand slam singles champion, an avid golfer who plays off a handicap of four, has baulked at any talk of a return to competitive sport having recently given birth to her first child, Hayden, in 2023.

But, after attending last year's event as a spectator, Barty is going to tee it up in the pro-am component at Queenstown's Millbrook Resort with former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting also in the field.

It's not just a one-round show either, with Barty among 156-amateurs who will play the opening three rounds with the professionals in a bid to make the final round cut vying for their own trophy.

"The New Zealand Open is a fantastic event and I really enjoyed my time there this year supporting our friend Louis Dobbelaar," said Barty.

"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.

Presidents Cup launch on the banks of the Yarra River in Melbourne. 09/12/2019.. Ash Barty hits at the floating green . Pic: Michael Klein

Presidents Cup launch on the banks of the Yarra River in Melbourne. 09/12/2019 - Ash Barty hits at the floating green. (Image: Michael Klein)

"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."

Barty earned plaudits from golf legend Tiger Woods when she hit balls across the Yarra before the Presidents Cup in Melbourne in 2019.

"She's got a great swing. Are you kidding me?" Woods said at the time.

In 2022, Barty played more golf in the Icons Golf Series in New Jersey alongside other international sporting icons like American swimming legend Michael Phelps, English football great Harry Kane and Ponting.

At the beginning of the Australian Open in Melbourne last week, Barty launched her new foundation, and has maintained she won't be returning to the tennis court.

Russell Gould - NCA NewsWire


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