Soon after the first major tennis Championships in Wimbledon in 1877, Melbourne tennis followed suit and embraced the new sport of lawn tennis.
Following the English tradition, the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club was established in the eastern Melbourne suburbs in 1892.
Although suffering from geographical remoteness, the first Australian international tournament was played in Melbourne in 1905.
The first womens championships were played in 1922. These Australian Championships were held in different cities across Australia and New Zealand each year.
In 1969, they permanently moved to Melbourne. Professionals as well as amateurs could then compete in the event. It became the Australian Open in that same year.
Today, the Australian Open is the annual tennis event held in Melbourne. It attracts growing crowds, surrounded by a party atmosphere. All major games are being broadcast and shared with tennis crazy visitors and Melburnians at Federation Square.
But there is more than modern tennis tournaments. Their forerunner, the original Real Tennis, is still being played today.
Real tennis is the original racquet sport from which the modern game of lawn tennis, and now tennis, descended.
This old form of tennis has survived centuries. Its origins are in the Middle Ages in Europe. Not just the game of kings, it was widely played among the French clergy. Among the English kings Henry VII, Henry VIII, Charles I and Charles II and James II are all known to have played.
The Real Tennis World Championships are the longest running continuous world championship of any sport. Real Tennis is the specialty of the Royal Melbourne Tennis Club.
In 1882, this Royal Tennis Club was opened in the middle of the Melbourne CBD, in Exhibition Street. It consisted of a tennis court and clubrooms.
In 1897 Queen Victoria herself granted a Royal Charter to the Club and gave it its present title The Royal Melbourne Tennis Club.
However, as the City of Melbourne expanded, the costs of owning expensive City real estate and of maintaining the Exhibition Street building had risen beyond the means of the Club.
In the early 1970s the Committee sold the site and established the present Club premise in Richmond.
Here is a list of some of tennis tournaments that were played in Melbourne before the popularity of the Australian Open:
The Melbourne Indoor was a men's tennis tournament played in Melbourne, Australia from 1980-1985. The event was part of the Grand Prix tennis circuit and was held on indoor carpet courts.
The Melbourne Outdoor was a men's tennis tournament played in Melbourne, Australia from 1983-1985. The event was part of the Grand Prix tennis circuit and was held on outdoor grass courts.
Kooyong Stadium, at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, is a tennis venue located in Melbourne, Australia. The stadium was built in 1927 and was the venue for the Australian Open whenever that tournament was held in Melbourne until 1988.Kooyong Stadium now has a hard-court surface and remains the venue for the AAMI Classic exhibition tournament.
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