, which now bills itself as the Grand Slam of Asia Pacific, was facing some challenges to its continued existence in Melbourne from the city of Sydney, as well as Asian countries. However, after the recent announcement by the Victorian government of a
$336 million redevelopment plan, the tournament will remain ensconced in Melbourne for decades to come... until at least 2036.
Since the tournament began in 1905 it has been shared between Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and even New Zealand although it has been played at Melbourne Park since 1988. This major facelift to the Australian Open facilities and grounds will begin in April and the first phase will finish by the 2015 Australian Open. The plans include adding a third retractable roof over Margaret Court Arena and increasing the seating capacity for that court by 1500 more seats. The plans also will include enhancing the player and media facilities while adding a major undercover courtyard for spectators away from the often scorching Australian sunshine, as well as eight new indoor courts and 13 new outdoor courts.
The timing of the Australian Open has been a subject of debate because players have been pushing for a longer off-season, as well as a desire to play the tournament later in the Australian summer, e.g. February or March, to avoid the excessive heat. At the same time, tournament organizers prefer the January dates which coincide with the Australian
summer school holidays. With a third stadium court featuring a retractable roof the hope is that the debate will be closed. The so-called "Happy Slam" is a exciting if sometimes hot way to ring in the tennis season. Here’s to many more years in Melbourne!