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Ash Barty to return to playing tennis at Wimbledon invitational event

<span>Ash Barty will return to playing tennis at Wimbledon for the first time since winning the 2021 women’s singles crown in an invitational doubles event.</span><span>Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP</span>
Ash Barty will return to playing tennis at Wimbledon for the first time since winning the 2021 women’s singles crown in an invitational doubles event.Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Former world No 1 Ash Barty will return to the scene of one of her greatest triumphs next month after Wimbledon organisers announced the three-time grand slam winner would play an invitational doubles match at this year’s Championships.

Barty, who announced her shock retirement from the sport in March 2022, will feature alongside other former professionals in the exhibition event which starts on the second Tuesday of play in south-west London.

It will be the first time she has taken to a tennis court at a major event since stunning the tennis world two years ago with news of her retirement at the age of 25, when she was the reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champion.

The decision to call time on her career came just seven weeks after ending Australia’s 44-year singles title drought at the Melbourne grand slam – the third of her major victories, adding to the 2019 French Open and the 2021 Wimbledon titles.

Now 28 and a mother after she gave birth to her first child last year, Barty on Thursday shared an announcement from Wimbledon organisers who said they were “delighted” to have the 2021 singles champion back.

Barty memorably lifted the the Venus Rosewater Dish on centre court after beating Karolina Pliskova to become the second Indigenous Australian woman to win the Wimbledon title after the great Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who won in 1971 and 1980.

At the time of her retirement, the former Young Australian of the Year said tennis would aways hold a special place in her heart, but she was looking forward to a life without the stresses of playing on the women’s tour.

Since then, she has dabbled in golf and was the headline act in the Icons Series, a similar teams exhibition event featuring former golfers as well as other retired athletes from other sports, in 2022.