Melbourne Park was officially opened in 1988, with the first tennis ball hit in January at the Australian Open. Steffi Graf and Mats Wilander became the inaugural singles champions.
Previously known as 'Flinders Park' or the 'National Tennis Centre', Melbourne Park's primary arena (Centre Court) was renamed Rod Laver Arena in 2000, in recognition of Rod Laver's remarkable tennis career. Laver achieved the Grand Slam twice and cemented himself as Australia's greatest and one of the world's best ever male tennis champions.
In terms of sport, tennis has brought worldwide recognition for the venue. The Australian Open, one of only four annual Grand Slam Tournaments, has been held every year at Melbourne Park since 1988. And aside from the Australian Open, Rod Laver Arena was the scene for Australia's last Davis Cup Triumph in 2003, when the Aussies took advantage of the drop-in grass court to defeat Spain.
The courts were resurfaced prior to the 2008 Australian Open, the blue Plexicushion surface giving Melbourne Park a fresh new look. This coincided with a spike in attendances (just over 600,000), which has continued to grow with almost 700,000 attending the past couple tournaments. In 2013 the Grand Slam one day record of 80,735 for the 6th day (Heineken Saturday) was set.
Best of all, the general public can play on the same courts graced by the World's best, take a tour of Rod Laver Arena and wander through Garden Square where the busts of dozens of Aussie champions and their achievements are on display.
For further tournament information about tennis, visit Tennis Australia.