Melbourne, Jan 25 (IANS) Former No.1 tennis player Ashleigh Barty will be making a sporting comeback as she confirmed to headline the Ambassador line up for the 103rd New Zealand Open next month.
The tournament will be played at Queenstown’s Millbrook Resort and will take place between February 29 and March 3.
Barty, who attended the New Zealand Open in 2023 as a spectator, is a three-time Grand Slam singles champion with an impressive competitive streak. She played on the world’s stage across her 12-year professional tennis career in which she was ranked world singles number one for 121 weeks overall.
After retiring from tennis in 2022 at the age of 25, Barty showed off her skills at the Icons Golf Series in New Jersey, where she held her own alongside other international sporting icons like American swimming legend Michael Phelps, English footballer Harry Kane and former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting.
“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-wracking, 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 said.
The three-time Grand Slam champion gave birth to her son, Hayden, in September. Barty has been spotted throughout the WTA Tour’s Australian residency this month.
Barty will tee it up alongside former New Zealand representatives Jeff Wilson (rugby and cricket), Sean Fitzpatrick (rugby), Israel Dagg (rugby), Stephen Fleming (cricket), Ella Gunson (hockey) as well as international rally driver Hayden Paddon, former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting, and former England cricket legend Sir Ian Botham.