Ash Barty announced to make sensational return to tennis in playing capacity at Wimbledon

The Australian tennis champion will make her return on the hallowed courts at the All England Club.

Wimbledon officials have announced that Ash Barty will play an exhibition doubles event at the grass-court grand slam in what will mark an unexpected return to tennis for the Aussie great. Barty stunned the tennis world in 2022 when she announced she was retiring from the sport - just two months after winning the Australian Open for her third grand slam title.

The 28-year-old has continually shot down calls for her to return to tennis, insisting she's happy in post-retirement life after having baby son Hayden. But the Aussie legend has been persuaded to play an invitational doubles match at Wimbledon next month - where she won the title in 2021.

Ash Barty at Wimbledon and with son Hayden.
Ash Barty will play an invitational doubles match at Wimbledon. Image: Getty

Barty had already been confirmed as a commentator for the grand slam at the All England Club, but officials announced on Thursday that she'll also be playing. The exhibition event that Barty will take part in will take place on Tuesday, July 9 (in the second week of the tournament) and will include a women’s doubles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles match.

“Reunited with the Wimbledon grass,” Wimbledon announced. “Delighted to have our 2021 singles champion Ash Barty returning for this year’s Invitational Doubles.”

Barty’s triumph at Wimbledon broke a 41-year drought for Australian women's tennis at the hallowed tournament. Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who is Barty's mentor and idol, was the last Aussie woman to win the title in 1980 before Barty broke through.

Ash Barty at Wimbledon in 2021.
Ash Barty won the women's singles title at Wimbledon in 2021. Image: Getty

Barty also won the French Open in 2019, becoming the first Aussie woman in 46 years to claim the clay-court grand slam. She then won her home slam at the Australian Open in 2022 before calling it quits and walking away from the sport.

She has continually insisted she won't be following the likes of Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka in coming back to the sport after having children. “I miss parts of it, but mostly I miss seeing my mates,” she admitted recently.

“I miss seeing the girls that I’ve built such a relationship with over so many years, but a lot of my best mates have also retired now and they’re kind of moving on to their next chapters. We’ll still get out there and hit occasionally if anyone asks or any of my mates ask. But no, I’m enjoying what I’m doing now.”

Barty said her main priority is now son Hayden. “It’s not like I’m doing things to keep myself away from the court,” she said. “I want be able to be there to raise Hayden and I want to be able to enjoy that.

“That’s what I want to do, plain and simple. That’s where my priorities lie now. I absolutely love being a mum. There’s nothing else that I prefer to do.”

RELATED:

Barty's retirement left somewhat of a hole in Australian women's tennis, but she remains confident there's a bright future ahead. "There's plenty coming through and it takes time to understand how you think you can fit in, grow into yourself," Barty said earlier this year about the Aussie women's talent. "I'm excited for the next five or 10 years to see where they can get to."