TIER: Grand Slams
PRIZE MONEY: $0 SURFACE: Hard
DIRECTOR: Craig Tiley
The best male and female tennis players battle through blistering temperatures in the hopes of getting their hands on the coveted trophy at the first Grand Slam of the season, the Australian Open.
Launching in 1905, the Australian Open has been staged in seven cities throughout Australia and New Zealand. It moved to its present home of what is now known as Melbourne Park in 1988, with the tournament also switching from a grass to hardcourt surface. The state-of-the-art facility features two courts with retractable roofs - Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena. The Australian Open has been held on a variety of dates, settling into its current mid-January place on the calendar in 1987.
Among the more recent historic occurrences at the event are Martina Hingis becoming the youngest Grand Slam champion in the 20th century at 16 years and three months by capturing the 1997 title; the women's final being moved to nighttime in 2009; and the longest women's match in Grand Slam history being played, with Francesca Schiavone outlasting Svetlana Kuznetsova in four hours, 44 minutes in the fourth round in 2011. The tournament is also known for offering more prize money than any other.
Serena Williams has the Open Era record with six singles titles Down Under. Just two behind her with four triumphs are Hall of Famers Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles. Martina Navratilova has the doubles record with eight titles, including seven consecutive.
Often referred to as the "Garden City" and "cultural capital of Australia", Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second-most populous city in Australia.