The Australian Open Played In March

By Randy Walker


Did you know that the Australian Open was once played in March,

It was 1971 and the tournament was moved for a year from its traditional December/January dates to March in accommodation to the scheduling requirements of the WCT Tour (World Championship Tennis) and the National Tennis League, two of the fledging tennis tours in the early years of professional tennis before it was consolidated. To boot, the tournament was originally scheduled to be held in Melbourne, but was moved to Sydney to accommodate the tournament’s title sponsor, Dunlap, which paid $125,000 to be associated with the event.

As you can read in my book “On This Day In Tennis History” (For sale and download here:

It was Margaret Court and Ken Rosewall who won the singles titles, both played on March 14, 1971, as you can read about in my book excerpt here:

March 14, 1971 – Margaret Court and Ken Rosewall win singles titles at the Australian Open at White City in Sydney, Australia. Court defeats first-time major finalist and fellow Australian Evonne Goolagong 2-6, 7-6 (1), 7-5 to win her country’s national championship for the 10th time in the last 12 years. Goolagong leads 5-2 in the final set, before she is beset with cramping in her leg. Says Court of the final-set deficit, “I thought I’d had it. I don’t think I played particularly well, but when Evonne got the cramp, I took advantage.” Court’s title is her sixth straight major singles title on the heels of her 1970 Grand Slam sweep of all four majors. Rosewall defeats defending champion Arthur Ashe 6-1, 7-5, 6-3, benefiting from 13 Ashe double-faults. Ashe hits four double-faults alone in the sixth game of the match as Rosewall wins the first set in just 19 minutes. Says Rosewall, “I think Arthur lost confidence when his service was not going too well.”

Watch some of the Court vs. Goolagong final here: and the Ashe vs. Rosewall final here

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