- Midwest Sports
7 Fun Facts about the Australian Open
Updated: Feb 11, 2021
The Australian Open is one of the most renowned tennis tournaments in the world. With it being the first The first Grand Slam of the season, the Australian Open has a special significance to tennis fans around the world, The event traces its history back almost 120 years, to 1905, when the championship was first started. With its special place in fans' hearts and its deep history, the Open also has some fun facts that even a die hard tennis fan may not know about. With the Australian Open in full swing, we dug deep to uncover 7 fun facts about one of the most prestigious tournaments in tennis! Let’s dive in!
1. History of Australian Open
This mega tennis event dates back, way back to the late 20th century and was first introduced in 1905. The Australian Open did not have its original name until 1969 and was formerly known as Australian Championship.
Earlier the game was played across several cities in Australia but from 1987 onwards it was played in Melbourne. The first match was played at Warehouseman's Cricket Ground. Due to its distant geographical location, the Australian Open did not have foreign players until 1946.
2. It Gets Hot!
The Australian Open which is held in January every year is actually the summer season in Australia. The daytime temperature can rise well above 100 degrees. In fact, it gets so hot that in 1998 an extreme heat rule was brought in - it is the only major tournament that has a heat policy. The Extreme Heat Policy allows umpires to suspend any given match when the temperature reaches above certain levels. If the temperature gets higher than 95 degrees, matches are usually to be stopped for a short time, which allows players to rehydrate and escape the extreme heat for a moment. In fact, in 2007, the tournament was regarded as the hottest tournament ever, with temperatures soaring over 120 degrees! The extreme heat causes many players to have to be put on intravenous drips in order to cope.
3. Raising the Roof
Speaking of the heat - with Australian summer temperatures routinely reaching triple digits the Open took matters into their own hands to combat the heat - installing a retractable roofing system. The Rod Laver Arena was one of the first sporting arenas in the world to get a retractable roofing system way back in 1987.
Later, the Laver arena roof was revamped, reducing the time it takes to close from 20 minutes to just 5 minutes. In 2010, the Margaret Court Arena was equipped with a retractable roof. In 2015, the Hisense Stadium too got a retractable roof. The Australian Open is the only Grand Slam to have 3 stadiums with retractable roofs..
3. The Open Has Been Played on Three Different Surfaces
The first Australian Open was actually played on a cricket field. That’s right, one of tennis’ most prestigious majors started out on a cricket field! As it goes, In 1905, the Australian Open, then referred to as the Australasian Tennis Championships was played for the first time at the Warehouseman’s Cricket Ground in Melbourne. The field is now called the Albert Reserve Tennis Centre. In fact, the Open has been played on Open has been played on three different surfaces:
Rebound Ace (a type of hard court, 1988–2007)
Plexicushion (a faster type of hard court, (2008–present)
4. Ken Rosewall
Ken Rosewall is a former top amateur and professional tennis player from Australia. He won a record 23 tennis Majors, including 8 Grand Slam singles titles and, before the Open Era, a record 15 Pro Slam titles. Beyond his outstanding career accolades, Rosewall also has another claim to fame. He is both the youngest and oldest to win the Australian Open - winning the major at both 18 and 37 years old.
5. Two Australian Open’s in the Same Year?
What is truly interesting is that due to scheduling issues coupled with weather issues, the Australian Open had to be played twice in 1977. The first Australian Open 1977 took place in January, then later that year, the tournament was held again in December. It remains the only major in tennis to be held twice in the same year.
6. Two Countries
The Australian Open is not just the only Grand Slam to have been held twice in the same year, it also holds the unique record of having been held at the most locations - 7 different cities and most notably in two different countries - Australia and New Zealand!
7. The Last Grand Slam Open to Professionals
Although tennis went professional in the summer of 1968, the 1968 Australian Open was not open for professionals. The 1968 French Open was the first Grand Slam tournament to allow professionals, followed by Wimbledon and US Open in that same year. The Australian Open is the last of the four Grand Slam tournaments to welcome professional players when it opened the 1969 Open to professionals from around the world!
Check back tomorrow for more Australian Open history, facts, and more, and of course enjoy one of the best tournaments in tennis!