History of a
Grand Slam Tennis Tournament
The Australian Open, held annually in the second half of January, is the first leg of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments.
The tournament began in 1905, when The Australasian Tennis Championships were first staged at the Warehouseman's Cricket Ground in St Kilda Rd, Melbourne. It was organized by The Lawn Tennis Association of Australia, which is known today as Tennis Australia.
Until tennis' "Open" era began in 1968, the Australian Championships were held in many different states, and at many different venues around Australia.
In the sixties, Australian players were totally dominant on the world tennis stage. Rod Laver won his two Grand Slams in 1962 and 1969, and, between them, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Margaret Smith Court won sixteen out of a possible twenty men's and women's titles.
With the ushering in of Open tennis, the name was changed to the Australian Open, and by 1972, the National Tennis Body decided to give the Australian Open a permanent home. That home was Melbourne, as it was the people of Melbourne who had given the most support to the tournament over the years. The Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club was chosen as the venue, where the tournament was held on grass courts for the next sixteen years.
Up until 1977, the Australian Open was held in January. That year, the tournament was shifted to December, which meant that there were two Australian Opens in the same calendar year. A December tournament remained the case until 1987, when the event was, once again, played in January. This meant that in 1986, there was no tournament.
During the eighties, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg were the dominant players in the mens, and Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert were at the forefront in the women's.
Also during the eighties, it became more and more evident that the tournament's rapidly growing stature would require a new venue. Flinders Park, which sported a new cushioned hardcourt surface (replacing Kooyong's grass), next to the Melbourne Cricket Ground was chosen as the new site. It proved to be a popular choice with both players and spectators.
In 1996, the Flinders Park venue was expanded and renamed Melbourne Park, where the stadium court, the Rod Laver Arena, and the No 1 showcourt both feature a movable roof, which can be shut when weather conditions outside threaten to interrupt play.
French Open History
US Open History