Kelly Defina/Getty Images
Barty retired from tennis last year.
Reuters  — 

Retired Australian Open champion Ash Barty is returning to Melbourne Park for this year’s event to mentor local hope Olivia Gadecki, who received a wildcard for the season’s first Grand Slam.

Former world number one Barty called time on her career last March, shortly after ending her country’s 44-year wait for a home champion at the Australian Open.

Marks Evans/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Gadecki reflected that Barty has "always been there for me" when she is in need of advice.

World number 202 Gadecki said at the United Cup in Sydney that Barty would be in her camp at Melbourne Park for the January 16-29 tournament.

“I’ve been really fortunate to always be able to contact her if I have any questions or if I need advice, she has always been there for me,” Gadecki told the Australian Associated Press.

“The best part is she just treats me like a normal person and we can relate in that regard and off court is just as important as on court.”

The 20-year-old will begin her Australian Open preparations at next week’s Hobart International.