|This commemorative issue of two stamps celebrates the Centenary of the Australian Open Tennis Championships. |
The Australian Open was established in 1905 as the Australasian Tennis Championships and played at the Warehousemen's Cricket Ground in Albert Park, Melbourne. Rodney Heath from Victoria was the inaugural winner. The first winner of the women's title, which was added to the tournament in 1922, was Margaret Molesworth from Queensland.
The competition was renamed the Australian Championships in 1927, eventually becoming the Australian Open in 1969, when all events were opened to professional players.
Until 1972 the Championships were held at various locations around the country. In 1972 the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia (now Tennis Australia) decided the tournament needed a permanent site.
The Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in Melbourne was selected as the first permanent home of the Australian Open. During the 1980s the Australian Open grew so popular that it outgrew the Kooyong facilities.
The tournament moved to the multi-purpose Flinders Park when it opened in January 1988. Following expansion in 1996, Flinders Park was renamed Melbourne Park. Centre court at Melbourne Park, which was named the Rod Laver Arena in 2000, is known worldwide for its retractable roof, a design innovation that allows play to continue regardless of the weather.
In the sixties and seventies the tournament was dominated by Australian tennis players such as Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, John Newcombe, Margaret (Smith) Court and Evonne (Goolagong) Cawley.
Two Swedes, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg were the star players in the men's singles in the eighties whilst Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert shared five women's titles between them.
Since the early nineties the Americans have dominated the men's competition, with champions such as Jim Courier, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi whilst the women's competition has seen multiple titles won by Americans Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati and Europeans Steffi Graf and Martina Hingis.
Australians Roy Emerson and Margaret (Smith) Court have the honour of holding the greatest number of Australian singles titles. Emerson won six between 1961 and 1967 and Court won eleven between 1960 and 1973.
When viewed together the two designs illustrate the many changes in the Australian Open tennis Championships during its first 100 years.