Melbourne, Australia , 24 April 2024 | Tennis Australia

As the tennis community mourns the passing of former professional player Brian Tobin, its members are also fondly reflecting on the long-time administrator’s powerful legacy in the sport.

Tobin, who passed away at age 93 on 22 April, was instrumental in the revitalisation of the Australian Open, including the development of the state-of-the-art Melbourne Park following the tournament’s move from its earlier home at Kooyong.

Born in Perth on 5 December 1930 and relocating to Melbourne as a teenager, Tobin was a member of the Australian top-10 in the 1950s and early ‘60s, reaching the fourth round of the Australian championships four times.

But it’s Tobin’s leadership positions in more than 40 years of service in tennis administration for which he’ll be most remembered, commencing with his role as a member of the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia council in 1964.

Tobin, who also enjoyed a successful 20-year career in banking and finance, became the national body’s full-time president in 1977 and held that role until 1989.

Within that period, the hardworking Tobin was critical to the Australian Open’s promotion from its status as a lesser partner to the other three Grand Slams.

Many of the world’s best players had earlier chosen not to contest the tournament when it was staged on grass at Kooyong.

The move to Melbourne Park, and the installation of the revolutionary roofed centre court, proved transformational to the tournament and the sport overall. Opened in 1988, the then-Flinders Park became the most modern venue of all four majors.

“Brian Tobin will always be remembered as the President who successfully moved the Australian Open from Kooyong to Melbourne Park and established a relationship with the Victorian Government that enabled me and the Presidents that followed to grow the Australian Open to equal status with the other Grand Slams,” said Geoff Pollard, who served as Tennis Australia President from 1989 until 2010.

“As a player and then as an official, Brian spent a lifetime leading the development and promotion of tennis in Australia and then worldwide as President of the International Tennis Federation.”

Under Tobin’s ITF leadership (between 1991 and 1999) Davis Cup, Fed Cup (now known as Billie Jean King Cup) all flourished.

David Haggerty, the current ITF President, described Tobin as a “great president” who “oversaw tennis’s emergence as a truly global sport, played and enjoyed by millions around the world.”

“His leadership of the ITF and vision at a pivotal time for tennis established firm foundations for the ITF to grow and adapt to the changes of the subsequent three decades, and ensured the future of the sport we all love,” Haggerty said.

Highly respected by players, officials and fellow administrators, Tobin was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2003. Induction into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame followed in 2004.

At the Australian Open in 2013, Tobin and legends including Frank Sedgman, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Margaret Court, Tony Roche, John Newcombe, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Lesley Bowrey and Pat Rafter gathered to receive Hall of Fame rings.

During day ten of the 2013 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 23, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.

He had previously been inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1991, acknowledging his contribution in administration to tennis.

Tobin also served roles on the Professional Tennis Council, Women’s Professional Tennis Council and was Australia’s Federation Cup captain for a three-year period in the 1960s,

He was appointed a member of the Order of Australia in 1986 and Olympic Order in 1999.

“He spent a lifetime developing and promoting the game we all love,” Pollard added. “We have all lost a great friend.”

Tobin is survived by his wife Carmen, and sons Geoff and Alan. A private funeral will be followed by a celebration of Brian’s life at a later date.