Barty's decision to retire is "a weird one to explain", says South African cricket legend

Australian tennis pro Ashleigh Barty announced her retirement in March at the age of just 25, and South African cricket legend AB de Villiers still seems bewildered by the decision, according to an interview with AFP.

Barty retired soon after lifting the Australian Open title in front of her home crowd earlier this year, but the former World No.1 has remained in the spotlight. The 25-year old is an avid golfer, and recently won a minor event in her native Australia. Subsequently, she is set to team up with de Villiers for another upcoming golf event.

Barty's relatively short career contrasts with that of the 38-year-old de Villiers, who, after well over a decade at the top, only retired from all formats of international cricket in 2018 and from the game entirely last year.

"It is a weird one to explain," de Villiers told AFP in a phone interview.

"I think the best answer is that every person has their own way of manoeuvring through their career, some as long as possible.

"The whole world respects her decision. I would like to think stepping away can be a relief but it is an incredible age to retire at."

De Villiers first met avid cricket fan Barty when he was playing in Australia's Big Bash League in 2019 and they will meet again when they team up in the inaugural Icons Series golf event in Jersey City from June 30 to July 1.

A Freddie Couples-captained Team USA will compete against a Rest of the World team -- skippered by 'The Big Easy' Ernie Els, one of de Villier's sporting idols -- with 14 sporting stars in each line-up.

While Barty and keen golfer de Villiers are in the Rest of the World Team, swimming legend Michael Phelps and boxing great Oscar de la Hoya are among those in Team USA.

Three-time Grand Slam winner Barty -- who de Villiers describes as having become a friend -- has already taken one break from tennis, playing cricket instead for Brisbane Heat during the 2015-16 Women's Big Bash. But this time around, the exit appears to be final.

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