Australia Open is one of the most renowned tennis tournaments in the world. Staged in the month of January, every calendar year, the event has its origin deeply etched in the year 1905, when the championship was first started. Similar to the other Grand Slam tournaments, the events has men's and women's singles competitions; men's, women's, and mixed doubles; and junior's and master's competitions. Being the only Grand Slam tournament that features indoor play, Australia Open has grown in size and stature, with every passing year. A peep into its history would help us know when was it commenced, how did it gain popularity and when is it played.
Australian Open Grand Slam Tennis Championship History
The Australian Open dates back to the start of the 20th century. First played in the year 1905, at Warehouseman's Cricket Ground in St Kilda Road, Melbourne, the tournament is managed by Tennis Australia, formerly known as Lawn Tennis Association of Australia (LTAA). At the beginning, the event was known as 'The Australasian Championships', which was changed to 'The Australian Championships', in 1927. Yet, another change in name occurred in the year 1969, when it was renamed 'Australian Open', as it is known today.
Due to the distant geographic location of Australia, the tournament did not attract foreign players until 1946, when the first U.S. Davis Cup players came by aircraft. In fact, initially, even domestic players did not participate in it, due to absence of inter-city transport facility. However, the development of the modes of transport, throughout the world, led Australian Open across all hurdles. By the 1960s, Australia had dominated the world forum of tennis, with majority of the top class players being Australians.
Some of the most recognized Australian tennis players were Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Margaret Smith Court. Together, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Margaret Smith Court won sixteen out of a possible twenty men's and women's titles. In 1969, Australian Open was open to all, including experts who were not allowed to play the conventional circuit. However, the timing of the event (right after Christmas and New Year) as well as the low money involved in it did not attract the top players.
Despite these drawbacks, the tournament was gaining, in popularity as well as stature, due to the presence of talent. Even the 'Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club' of Melbourne seemed to fall short of the crowd, which was attracted by the event. It was, then, decided to move the Australian Open to Flinder's Park, located next to the Melbourne Cricket Ground and posed to be the most ideal place. It flaunted a new cushioned hard-court surface and thus became the most popular choice by both players and spectators.
Change From Grass To Hard Courts
In 1905, the year in which Australian Open was commenced, the tournament was contested on grass. The trend continued to remain in vogue till 1987. It was only in 1988 that the championship came to be held on hard courts. Mats Wilander is the only male player to have won Australian Open on both grass and hard courts. Presently, two main courts are used in the tournament, namely Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena, both of them having retractable roofs that can be shut in case of rain or extreme heat.
The dates of Australian Open fluctuated in the early years of the tournament. In 1919, it took place in January, but in 1920, the event was shifted to March. In 1923, the tournament held at Brisbane was conducted in August. Thereafter, the Australian Open was held in January every year, until 1977. However, in the same year, the tournament was shifted to December, which is the reason for two Australian Opens being held in 1977. In 1987, the tournament was shifted back to January, the reason for no tournament being played in 1986.
Till date, Australian Open has been organized in five Australian and two New Zealand cities. While most of the times the event was organized at Melbourne, the other cities that staged the tournament were Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Christchurch and Hastings. It was only in 1972 that the National Tennis Body decided to give the Australian Open, a permanent home. Melbourne was chosen as the preferred destination, as it had given the most support to the tournament over the years.
Australian Open Grand Slam Tennis Championship started in the year 1905. Go through this article, to know more on its history and origin.