Melbourne, 4 October 2011 | Tennis Australia

Australian Open 2012 is set to offer the highest prize money in the history of Grand Slam tennis.

The total prize pool will be $26 million, with the men’s and women’s champions taking home a record $2.3 million each.

Australian Open 2012 was officially launched at Melbourne Park this morning by the Premier of Victoria, Ted Baillieu who also announced the historic tournament trophies, the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup and the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy, will head to China for the first ever international leg of the Australian Open Trophy Tour next week.

“Victoria is ready to host the Australian Open, an event which captures the attention of the entire world and brings us together to celebrate the peak of tennis achievement right here in Melbourne,” Mr Baillieu said.

“The Australian Open inspires players at an elite and grassroots level, particularly after the success of local hero Sam Stosur who was so impressive winning the 2011 US Open singles title last month.

“This event is especially popular with visitors to Victoria and we expect to host many Chinese visitors in 2012 with tennis undergoing a surge in popularity in China thanks in part to the recent success of 2011 Australian Open runner-up and Chinese female champion Li Na.”

The men’s singles championship will be contested for the 100th time at Australian Open 2012. Since 1905 the men’s title has been won by 59 different players. A commemorative coin has been struck to mark the milestone and the 100th champion will also be awarded a unique medal which was unveiled today.

Roy Emerson, the record six-time champion, flew in from the United States to be part of today’s event.
“Your home country’s championship obviously means a great deal. When I first won the Australian Open in 1961, 50 years ago, I was extremely proud to win,” Roy Emerson said today.

“I am very much looking forward to the launch of the Australian Open. When Craig Tiley contacted me, I was very honoured to be invited.  It will be a big day for me, I’m happy I was able to make it and I’m looking forward to seeing some of my old friends, it will be terrific.”

In other big news organisers announced a women’s legends event, and are preparing to welcome three-time Australian Open champion, Martina Hingis, back to Melbourne.

Other initiatives for Australian Open 2012 include:

  • Hawk-Eye to be introduced on Margaret Court Arena
  • bigger and better Grand Slam Oval following redevelopment work, with improved access and additional space
  • Australian Open Kids Day returns with more activities and opportunities for kids to play on the Australian Open courts
  • Battle of the Codes, a lead-in pro-am pitting the sporting teams of Melbourne against each other
  • major sponsor ANZ has extended its Australian Open contract for a further 12 months and new sponsor Dove has been signed and is planning an activation on Grand Slam Oval
  • redeveloped site with improvements to corporate and general dining areas, including new corporate package Grand Slam Select on the River Terrace
  • a significant investment in catering infrastructure and facilities will ensure improved dining facilities and a wider range of food and beverage options
  • expanded merchandise range to include prestige memorabilia collection
  • doubles champion Ken Fletcher to be inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame
  • improved player facilities, with a new player lounge, gym and entertainment options including a shark aquarium and live music performances.

“Our mission is to continually improve the Australian Open experience for both the players and fans and the 2012 event is ready to deliver on every level,” Tennis Australia CEO Steve Wood said.

The rise of world No.1 Novak Djokovic since he won at Melbourne Park in 2011, the great rivalries between the big three of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, and the emergence of a new Australian Grand Slam tournament champion, Sam Stosur, were all hot topics at the launch.

“Tennis is incredibly fortunate to have the most charismatic sportsmen in the world engaged in an intriguing power struggle,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.

“Djokovic has had one of the most successful years ever seen in the sport and Nadal is snapping at his heels, eager to regain the top spot. You can never discount a great champion like Roger Federer and Andy Murray is desperate to break through at a Slam.

“We are so proud of Sam Stosur. The importance of her spectacular success at the US Open, winning convincingly over Serena Williams in her own backyard, cannot be underestimated and is a huge boost for the sport in Australia.

“Sam and her team have worked so hard and so consistently over a long period of time and Grand Slam success, achieved by only a select few, is a well deserved reward.”