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Althea Gibson, Ash Barty and Rafael Nadal all have one thing in common.

The trio of former tennis greats have all swapped their racquets for golf clubs and they won’t be the last.

Gibson, a tennis hall of famer and former World No. 1, laid the blueprint in the 1950s. She won six major titles before contesting 171 professional golf tournaments.

Despite never winning, the American broke into the top 50 in the world rankings.

When it comes to scratch golfers today, tennis legends Barty and Nadal fit the mould.

Barty retired from the game at 25 to play competitive golf, whilst Nadal – a 22-time major winner – has juggled setbacks on the court with becoming a champion on the golf course.

And we might be about to see the next great golfer off the tennis chain, as Gabriella Ruffels is major championship bound.

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A former tennis prodigy, the 24-year-old could have been lining up a bid at Nadal’s beloved Roland Garros next week had things panned out differently.

Instead, the Australian will arrive at Lancaster Country Club, in Pennsylvania, for the US Women’s Open.

She won’t go to the second major in the women’s calendar without a chance, either, with top-three finishes in her last two starts, including Monday’s effort behind world No.1 Nelly Korda.

“I just keep taking every week on the LPGA Tour as a learning experience and hopefully it does lead to that big win,” she told the Australian Associated Press.

Less than a decade ago, Ruffels was set to become the tennis great. But as the Australian under-12s champion, she called it a day.

“I was 14 and a half,” Ruffels said. “I just kind of got burnt out from the sport.

“I started home-schooling at the National Academy and going on trips by myself to Europe at a young age and spending just hours and hours on end on the tennis courts all day.

“So, November 2014, I told my parents and all the coaches at the National Academy that I was done, I was quitting tennis, and they gave me a couple of weeks to think about it.”

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Ruffels was brought up with tennis in her family. Her father Ray represented Australia in the Davis Cup, whilst her mother was also a professional.

And it was her mother Anna-Maria who got her hooked on golf, right after leaving the racquet behind.

“It’s just crazy for me to think that now I’m playing professional golf when throughout basically my whole childhood I had my eyes set on professional tennis,” she said.

“It’s a whole different world but it’s cool and I’m enjoying it.”

Ruffels, now ranked 43rd in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, was joined by her brother Ryan, who also made the switch from tennis to golf.

“Neither of my parents tried to talk me out of it,” Ruffels added.

“I have been so lucky that they’ve been so supportive to both of us, and they let us do what we want to do.”

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