The Australian ‘Summer of Tennis’ looked a little different this year, but it certainly showcased the strong presence Australia has on the international stage for the sport.
Following date and venue changes, all lead up tournaments usually held around the country were moved to Melbourne Park, meaning a host of stars were in action for three weeks right here in Melbourne.
While the tennis tour came to a stop mid-way through last year, it had picked up again in time to host Grand Slam tournaments, the US Open and Roland-Garros. However due to strict border controls and safety, a lot of Australian players chose not to travel overseas to compete,, staying at home instead.
Most hadn’t played a competitive match in almost a year, and returning to the tour could have been a tricky task, especially when adapting to a tournament in ‘COVID normal’ conditions.
World No.1 Ash Barty began her year adding another title to her collection, taking home the Yarra Valley Classic trophy.
While she was the sole Aussie to win a title in the lead up tournaments, it saw former top 20 player Daria Gavrilova and junior star Destanee Aiava return to action.
Former Grand Slam champion Sam Stosur joined other working mums Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams on tour, after her partner Liz gave birth to their first child, Evie last June. While the former top 10 player just missed out on the silverware, she took home the runner’s up trophy in the Mixed Doubles of the Australian Open with Matt Eden.
And in another event happening parallel with the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, the Phillip Island Trophy, fresh-faced WTA player Olivia Gadecki made headlines when she took out then reigning AO Champion and World No.4 Sofia Kenin in a tight three-set battle.
Away from the court, Australian tennis legends Judy Dalton and Kerry Reid are to be recognised by the International Hall of Fame for their role in the Original Nine, starting what would become the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). 50 years ago, nine female players took action about the increasing disparity around prize money between the men’s and women’s game.
In an incredibly brave move all in the name of equality, Judy and Kerry are among other trailblazers like Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals and Nancy Richey in the Original Nine.