Australian Open Tennis Courts

The venue of the Australian Open is the Melbourne and Olympic Park Precinct. It hosted its first event in 1956 with the Summer Olympics and in 1985 parts of Flinders and Yarra parks were set aside, for the National Tennis Centre.

A local architect, Peter Brook was assigned to the AUS$94 million development. Part of the extensive brief by authorities was that the venue be designed for both Grand Slam tennis and other mass entertainment.

The Precinct was developed in 3 phases:

Rod Laver Arena

The first phase, which was completed in 1987, includes a 16 000 seat Centre Court with a retractable roof. The Australian Open tennis court was aptly named after Australia’s greatest tennis player of all time, Rod Laver, who is still the only person in history to have captured two Grand Slams, in 1962 and 1969.
The Rod Laver Arena also features:

  • Match Court 1 – 6 000 seats
  • Match Court 2 – 3 000 seats
  • 13 outside match courts
  • 5 indoor practice courts

The retractable roof is the world’s first and features a highly innovative design. It comprises 2 rolling sections each spanning the court with the now-famous arched trusses. It takes a mere 30 minutes to open or close. During the sizzling summer months, the roof is often closed to protect players from the heat.

The second phase was completed by the 1996 Australian Open, at a cost of AUS$23 million. In effect it doubled the size of Melbourne Park and two new show courts with a seating-capacity of 3000 and 800 respectively, as well as 8 new match courts were added. A central lawn area, Garden Square, was also added at this stage. Garden Square is well supported by the viewing public, as it sports a big screen which broadcasts arena events live.

Vodafone Arena

The third phase of the Australian Open tennis courts, the Vodafone Arena, was completed in 2000 and offers a 10 000-seat show court. It also includes a number of food and beverage outlets as well as merchandise shops in its 13 100 square metre area. All the tennis courts at Melbourne Park are currently surfaced with Rebound Ace, but this all changed for the 2008 Australian Open, when a new surface, Plexicushion, was introduced for the first time.

Melbourne Park has its own tram spot (route 70) and Richmond, Flinders Street and Jolimont train stations are within walking distance. It is a mere 1km from Melbourne’s CBD.