Australian Open Tennis Tournament History

The Australian Open is the first Grand Slam event to be held each year in January. The inaugural tournament took place in 1905 when it was contested on the grass courts of Kooyong. Due to the enormous amount of time it took for the top tennis players in the world to travel to Australia, the event virtually faded out into obscurity.

With the advent of air travel, the tournament was revived and in 1988 it moved to a hard court base, called Flinders Park – now better known as Melbourne Park. The tournament grew in popularity with the likes of Agassi, Wilander and Lendl fighting it out for the Norman Brookes Trophy . It became a truly ‘Grand Slam’ event, and has been consistently supported by the very best in world tennis.

The two main venues of the event, the Rod Laver Arena and the Vodafone Arena, have retractable roofs, so that play is not stopped due to rain, or more often than not, spiking temperatures of 35 degrees centigrade, or more, which is typical of the Australian summer!

2008 saw a new surface for the courts, with the Rebound Ace surface being replaced with a faster, acrylic “Plexicushion” surface.
In 2007, Tennis Australia, which manages the event, introduced new technology for line calling at the Rod Laver Arena, making history at the Australian Open tennis tournament. The Hawk-eye system was used as a back-up to human linesman. Players were allowed to challenge a human line call by having Hawk-eye confirm or overrule the original call.

This meant that both players and spectators could view instant replays on the video screen installed inside the arena – leaving no room for error. There was a notable outcry when Amelie Mauresmo challenged the ‘in’ call on her opponent’s shot and the Hawk-eye replay showed the ball out graphically, but called the ball ‘in’!

Also making history, 2007 also saw an increase in the security at the Australian Open tennis tournament. With over 554 000 fans, the organisers had to face a mini-crisis when about 150 Serb and Croat fans started a brawl in Melbourne Park. Over 20 policemen were called in to control the riot and thereafter no spectator wearing Croatian or Serbian colours were allowed to attend.