Australian Open: Seven fun facts about tennis’ first Grand Slam of the season
The Australian Open is one of the most highly anticipated events on the tennis calendar, and with very good reason.
It is the return of top level tennis after a break of a couple of months and the first real opportunity to gauge how the season will pan out.
It is also one of the most unique tournaments on the calendar, as the following seven fun facts illustrate.
Not always Australian
The Australian Open has actually not always been staged in Australia. The tournament was first played in 1905 at the Warehouseman’s Cricket Ground in Melbourne. Incidentally, today that cricket ground is the Albert Reserve Tennis Centre.
Back then, though, it was billed as the Australasian Championships. As part of that incarnation, it was twice played in New Zealand – in 1906 and 1912. It became the Australian Open in 1969.
Not always Melbourne, either
Although it started in Melbourne and has now found its permanent home in the city, the Australian Open has been around a bit.
As well as its two editions in New Zealand, four other Australian Cities have held the event. Sydney has hosted it 17 times, Adelaide 14 times, Brisbane 8 times and Perth three times. Melbourne, meanwhile, is about to host its 63rd edition.
Australian Open only recently a hardcourt event
Although Wimbledon is synonymous with grass court tennis now, the Australian Open used to give it a run for its money.
Before 1988 it was always played on grass, with the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club (Melbourne) becoming its first permanent home in 1972. It became a hardcourt event when it moved to Melbourne Park (then Flinders Park).
Most attended tennis tournament
The Melbourne event is the most-attended tennis tournament on the calendar. It set the record in 2020 (perhaps everyone knew what was coming and got in while they could!) when 812,174 attended across the two weeks.
For context, the record US Open attendance is 776,000 spectators, which was set in 2022.
Australian Open laughs in the face of rain
Perhaps one key reason for the record spectator numbers is that the Australian Open is the only tennis tournament in the world that has three stadiums with a retractable roof.
Rod Lever Arena (14,820 capacity), John Cain Arena (10,300 capacity) and Margaret Court Arena (7,500) are all protected from the elements.
New balls please
The tournament uses around 40,000 tennis balls every year, which they then sell for charity for $2 each.
Six of Dunlop AO Balls are used for the warm-up and the first seven games, then six new balls are provided every nine games thereafter.
Related Reading: Tennishead review of the 2022 Australian Open Dunlop Ball
Australian Open interest is huge
As you would expect, the AO is a an incredibly well-covered event. It is shown live in 220 countries worldwide.
More than 100 press conferences take place during the tournament, and the event is covered by over 700 journalists and photographers.
You can catch all of Tennishead’s Australian Open coverage by clicking here.
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