The Australian Open is the first Grand Slam tennis tournament to be played in the calendar year and is hosted by the Melbourne Park in Melbourne. The competition was first held in 1905 and has seen the use of grass courts before shifting to the hard court surfaces.
In 1988, the first ever Australian Open was played on a hard court surface, with the green-coloured Rebound Ace used up to 2007. It then changed the surface to blue Plexicushion in 2007.
It’s three main courts are called the Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena and the Margaret Court Arena and all three of them possess a retractable roof, which allows the Australian Open to be played indoors during rains and extreme heat as well.
Earlier known as the Australasian Open and the Australian Championship, it acquired its current name in 1969 and is managed and organised by Tennis Australia or the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia, as it was earlier named.
Interestingly, the Australian Open has been hosted at seven different venues, including two in New Zealand. These are Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Christchurch and Hastings.
It’s current venue, the Melbourne Park, first hosted the tournament in 1988.
More recently, the state of New South Wales had stated they were looking to host the Australian Open after Melbourne’s rights expired in 2016 but this was met with a stinging criticism by Melbourne.
In the end, a revamp of the Melbourne Park meant that the Australian Open will continue to be played in the city till 2036 at the very least.
In 1998, the Australian Open organisers introduced a heat policy that allowed play to be stopped when the temperatures reached a certain levels. However, this was allowed only for matches played at the quarter-final stage or beyond.
Initially this was set at 39 degree centigrade or at the match referee’s discretion beyond 35 degrees centigrade, and the rule was first used in 1997.
This rule was tweaked in 1998 to allow all matches to stop once the temperatures touched 40 degree centigrade, and this threshold was brought down to 38 degree centigrade in 2002.
At different times since then, the policy has been changed and the threshold temperatures have been tweaked to adjust to the changing global weather.
The total prize money given out at the Australian Open is AUS $50 million with the singles winners taking home a whopping $3.7 million apiece. Doubles winning teams take home $650,000 while the mixed doubles winners pocket $165,000 for the team during the tournament.
Other competitions include the wheelchair, legends and exhibition matches along with the junior boys and girls competitions.
Novak Djokovic has won the men’s singles title six times at the Australian Open in the Open Arena, while Serena Williams’ seven titles makes her the recipient of the most women’s singles titles at the competition.
The Bryan brothers have won the men’s doubles title thrice, while Martina Navratilova, partnering with different players, has triumphed on eight separate occasions in the Australian Open Women’s Doubles competition.