In 1905, the Australian Open brought world-class tennis to the Australian public.

Since 1973, the world.

Starting in Melbourne, the tournament has grown and become one of the greatest and most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world.

A Grand Slam.

Rubbing shoulders with Wimbledon, the French Open, and the US Open, the Australian Open is illustrious.

 Rod Laver Arena | Credit: beIN Sports

During its infancy, the Australian Open was considered a novelty. It wasn’t considered an international tournament until 1924. Back then, the trip from Europe to Australia by ship took 45 days, which was not very appealing for many international players.

While Australian players were recognized as dominant players internationally, they also had trouble travelling outside. When the Open was held in Perth, players from New South Wales and Victoria did not bother to attend as the only option of travel was via train over a distance of 3,000km. The relatively low prize money didn’t make things any more alluring.

How did the Australian Open become what it is today? Jet travel removed the inconvenience of reaching Australia; television showed the world the quality of the tournament, and Australian players had a reputation for their talent in the game.

It wasn’t until 1988 that the Open finally reached its potential.

In 1988 the Australian Open was given a permanent home in Melbourne, The ultimate cultural hotspot. Moving away from grass courts, the Australian Open embraced a Rebound Ace surface, giving the tournament an advantage. Since then, it has only grown through perseverance and the showcasing of skill on the court.

Nowadays, it attracts large sponsors and a taste for luxury. Since 2008, Rolex has been the official timekeeper of the Australian Open. They sponsort players such as the Australian Dominic Thiem and the all-time great, Roger Federer.

Thiem has been wearing a Rolex since 2017 favouring timeless models like the 11610LN Submariner (possibly upgraded to the new 121160LN). His recent favourite seems to be the 116520 Daytona. His chronograph Daytona in Oystersteel features a black dial and an oyster bracelet. Combine that with a black ceramic bezel and a tachymetric scale, you have a watch that remains in a class of its own, matching the wearer.

Like all Rolexes they’re subtle, beautiful, sleek, elegant, and incredibly versatile. Both have remained in the Rolex catalogue for so long for a reason, and that reason is its timeless style, making a statement. 

The tennis world’s darling, Roger Federer, has worn a Rolex for years, and is one of their most prominent partners since 2006. Federer has won the Australian Open six times with the grace and sophistication often associated with Rolex. When he broke the all-time Grand Slam record in 2009, he was wearing his Rolex. “When I was finally able to lift the trophy, I was wearing my Rolex on my wrist,” Federer told Rolex. 

Federer with his Oyster Perpetual Datejust II | Credit: New York Times

Roger Federer’s signature watch is the Oyster Perpetual Datejust II.

The beauty of the Datejust is the multiple-size Rolex has been able to remaster the watch in. Coming in 28, 31, 34, 36, and 41mm sizes. The Rolex Federer is wearing an elegant 41 mm Oyster case and bracelet fitted with a Fluted bezel.

While it may not be appropriate on the court it is still an elegant addition to the Rolex line. Depending on your view, the new 31mm diamond-set version could be thought of as gaudy and a little too much. However, it is also a statement that people won’t soon forget.

2021 brought new challenges to the tournament. The recent lockdown in Melbourne has meant that players have been forced to play in an empty arena. Players understand the necessity but lament the fact that the games feel like practice without a crowd. The tournament is once again relying on television to reach its audience. However, Rolex has stood by the Australian Open during these tough times promoting class during difficult times. It is hard to act with a class during tough times but that is the mark of a strong and confident person and Rolex understands that.

From humble beginnings to one of the biggest tournaments in the world, the Australian Open is a true ‘rags to riches’ story. World-class performances combined with grace, sophistication, and taste are characteristic of the ‘Happy Slam’.