In 2013, the Australian Open Tennis Championship in Melbourne, considered among the biggest sporting events in the southern hemisphere, welcomed a record 684,457 visitors, 548 players, more than 720 media from 40 different countries and 380 Australian Open ball kids. The tournament is broadcast in more than 200 countries around the world and prize money for 2014 has been elevated to $33 million.
It’s the first grand slam of the year kicking off the season with a bang and as all eyes tune into Melbourne for the start of the 2014 tournament on 13 January, spectators will be the first to witness the transformation taking place at Margaret Court Arena (MCA). The scene of many stunning Australian Open battles, MCA will sport a dramatic new look for the in 2014, including a distinctive new roof providing fans with shaded seating areas. The roof will be fixed in an open position for AO 2014 and fully operational for AO 2015 when the Australian Open will be the only Grand Slam event boasting three retractable-roof stadiums.
Also new in 2014, retired tennis superstar Pete Sampras will be returning to Melbourne 20 years after winning the first of his two Australian Open men’s singles championships, and Roger Federer signs up as Ambassador for Kids’ Tennis Day and will join fellow players and Nickelodeon characters at a special Rod Laver Arena show on Saturday, 11 January.
The magnificent Australian Open trophies will set off on their third tour through Asia in 2013, with Korea, Singapore, China and Hong Kong on the itinerary. The profile of the Australian Open – the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific – continues to grow in the region, fueled by the success of home-grown champions such as China’s Li Na and Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
Tennis fans are looking forward to the return of Rafael Nadal whose inspirational comeback from injury this year has so far netted him nine titles, including two Grand Slams. Defending champion Novak Djokovic, three-time finalist Andy Murray and the legendary Roger Federer will be crowd favourites as will local talent Bernard Tomic.
In the women’s contest, the seemingly invincible Serena Williams will be one to watch, Maria Sharapova will be on the come-back trail and defending champion Victoria Azarenka will be hoping to continue her luck in Melbourne. Li Na is a hit with the Aussie crowds as well as visiting Chinese tourists, and local favourite Sam Stosur is sure to be a sell-out too.
The event always attracts a who’s who list of famous faces, the 2013 crowd included Shane Warne, Elizabeth Hurley, Kevin Spacey, Geoffrey Rush, Audrina Patridge, Greg Norman, Redfoo, Andre Agassi, Alessandro Del Piero and Cathy Freeman.
Ticket pre-sales for Australian Open 2014 are at an all-time high. New tour operator partnerships include P&O Cruises, with a first-time cruise from Sydney to Melbourne selling out in record time. International visitors wanting to secure their spot at can do so via the official International Australian Open Championship Tour Operators.
With tickets and travel packages secured, international visitors can look forward to a sensational summer in Melbourne. The city is at its most colourful with long balmy nights perfect for exploring the many eat-streets, alfresco bars and diversity of entertainment.
Tennis fans wanting some inspiration for their pre and post tennis time in Melbourne can now get help from Melbourne’s Remote Control Tourists. The successful October initiative by Tourism Victoria saw four real people exploring Melbourne, as directed by the public via social media, with their experiences live streamed in real time.
Highlights from the resulting footage are now available as itineraries for visitors arriving in Melbourne for the Australian Open. It includes entertaining video footage from some of Melbourne’s hottest restaurants and bars as well as fun attractions and areas to visit with suggested hotels for accommodation.
A full Tourism Victoria media kit is available online via the Pieces of Victoria Media Portal, or see the official Australian Open Championship website with daily news updates
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