10 iconic moments from the Australian Open

Serena Williams, 2003 Australian Open

Alice Piper

Posted January 12, 2022

From a family face off to a meltdown never to be forgotten, here are the most iconic moments from the Australian Open. 

Like clockwork, sports-mad Melburnians dust off their tennis racquets and channel their inner Roger Federer as the Australian Open comes to town each January.

Ahead of this year’s Australian Open, look back at some of the tournament's most iconic moments. 

Don’t forget, if you’re heading Melbourne Park to watch the matches, or settling outside the big screen at Federation Square or Hisense Arena, plan your journey with the help of arevo. Summer road closures, traffic conditions and Public Transport changes can all impact your arrival time, so allow for extra time when travelling.

Iconic Australian Open moments

Rod Laver V Tony Roche, Men’s Semi final, 1969

Considered one of the most gruelling tennis matches of all time, the two Australians faced off in 39 degree heat, with one game lasting a staggering 90 minutes.  

Laver ended up winning the match 7-5, 22-20, 9-11, 1-6, 6-3 over Roche, but not without some assistance in the form of cabbage leaves in his hat to keep himself cool.

The McEnroe Meltdown, 1990

There have been some hot-headed tennis players participate at the Australian Open, but perhaps none more so than John McEnroe. In 1990, the then world No.9 was disqualified after receiving three code violations for unsportsmanlike conduct and intimidation against a line umpire, in his fourth-round match against Mikael Penfors.  

McEnroe was also fined $6,500 USD for the outburst. 

John McEnroe unleashes his feelings in 1990

Jim Courier jumps in the Yarra River, 1992 

Kicking off what would be a stellar season, Jim Courier defeated Stefan Edberg in the Men's Final in 1992, before taking a dip in the Yarra River to celebrate.  

This celebration marked the beginning of a tradition for the American, jumping in the Yarra River again in 1993 after successfully defending his title.

Jim Courier celebrates in the Yarra River in 1992

Martina Hingis becomes the youngest ever Grand Slam winner, 1997

At just 16 years old, Martina Hingis defeated Mary Pierce 6-2, 6-2, becoming the youngest ever winner of an Australian Open and Grand Slam in the Open era.  

Hingis then returned in 1998 as the No.1 seed, beating Conchita Martinez 6-3, 6-3 in 86 minutes and earning her place in the history books as the youngest player in the Open era to defend a Grand Slam title.

Serena and Venus Williams face off, 2003

Serena and Venus Williams were tournament finalists for the fourth straight Grand Slam at the 2003 Australian Open, with Serena beating Venus in the French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open of the preceding year.

Winning 7-6, 3-6, 6-4, Serena completed what has come to be known as a ‘Serena Slam’ - four successive Grand Slam victories in a row in a non-calendar year.  

Serena Williams defeats sister Venus in 2003

The great Melbourne heatwave, 2003

For the first time in tournament history, the entire Australian Open was played indoors, with the Women’s Final between Serena and Venus Williams played under a closed roof when the temperature reached a staggering 42 degrees.  

This was the first time an Australian Open final had been played indoors since 1988 when Graf and Evert played under a partially-closed roof due to rain. 

Change in court surface and colour, 2008

It was 2008 when the Australian Open transitioned from Rebound Ace to Cushion Acrylic hard court, along with a change in court colour from green to the blue we see today.  

The change was a big deal for the Australian Open, with the new surface impacting court speed and bounce.  

Roger Federer V Rafael Nadal, Men’s Singles Final, 2009

2009 was the year Roger Federer hoped to equal Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slam titles – but arch-rival Rafael Nadal had other ideas.  

In a match that lasted more than four hours and five sets, Nadal was triumphant, beating the Swiss champion 7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2. 

Rafael Nadal defeats Roger Federer in 2009

The longest match in tournament history, 2012

The longest Australian Open match played yet, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal battled it out for 5 hours and 53 minutes in the Men’s Singles final in 2012.  

After five gruelling sets, Djokovic prevailed 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5, adding a fifth Grand Slam title to his burgeoning CV.  

Li Na's brilliant winner's speech, 2014

An emotional Li Na became the first player from an Asian country to win an Australian Open title, defeating Dominika Cibulkova 7-6, 6-0.  

Perhaps the most iconic moment of the whole match was Na’s winner's speech that went viral on Twitter and had spectators in Rod Laver Arena in fits of laughter.  

Thanking her agent Max for “making me rich”, and her husband for “doing a lot of jobs,” her endearing personality was the real winner that night.  

How to get to Melbourne Park for the Australian Open

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