Watch the Australian Open live from Monday 19 January as the first Grand Slam of the year kicks off in Melbourne.
Stan Wawrinka returns to defend his title at the 2015 Australian Open but faces stiff competition from the established and emerging stars of men’s tennis – Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov, Nick Kyrgios and the rest – while the title left vacant by Li Na’s retirement in 2014 is the goal for five-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams and a stellar women’s field led by Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Simona Halep, and Eugenie Bouchard.
Stan Wawrinka in action at the 2014 Australian Open (WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
Known as the ‘Happy Slam’, the Australian Open has a history stretching back to 1905 when it was known as the Australasian Championships and then the Australian Championships before becoming the Australian Open in 1969. The tournament has been staged in five Australian and two New Zealand cities before finding its current home in Melbourne in 1972, when it was played at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club before moving to Melbourne Park in 1988 – when the surface switched from grass to its current hard courts.
Melbourne Park features the Rod Laver Arena, seating nearly 15,000 and equipped with a retractable roof, as well as the Margaret Court and Hisense Arenas.
Almost every legend of tennis, past and present, has lifted either the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup or the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy at the Australian Open. Roy Emerson holds the record for most men’s titles, winning his first of six titles in 1961 before dominating the tournament with five consecutive titles between 1963 and 1967. Margaret Court won the Australian Open an incredible 11 times including four times in the Open Era, finishing in 1973. In the Open Era, Andre Agassi (1995, 2000, 2001 and 2003), Roger Federer (2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010) and Novak Djokovic (2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013) are tied for most Australian Open men’s titles, with Djokovic also holding the record for most consecutive titles won in the Open Era.
Serena Williams aims for an incredible sixth Australian Open title in 2015 (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
18-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, with her five Australian Open titles (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010), holds the record for most women’s titles in the Open Era, while Margaret Court (1969, 1970, 1971), Evonne Goolagong Crawley (1974, 1975, 1976), Steffi Graf (1988, 1989, 1990), Monica Seles (1991, 1992, 1993) and Martina Hingis (1997, 1998, 1999) tied for the most consecutive Open Era titles.
The last Australian to win the men’s title was Mark Edmonson in 1967, while Chris O’Neil in 1978 holds the honour for the women.
The 2015 Australian Open men’s field includes a number of former champions, led by four-time champions Roger Federer, holder of 17 Grand Slams, and world no. 1 Novak Djokovic. Rafael Nadal captured the title in 2009 but fell to surprise 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka in a thrilling final. On the women’s side, five-time champion Serena Williams is joined by 2008 champion Maria Sharapova and 2012-13 champion Victoria Azarenka. Andy Murray, Petra Kvitova, Marin Cilic and Ana Ivanovic are among those who have triumped at other Grand Slams looking to make their mark on the Australian Open in 2015.
The Australian Open begins on Monday 19 January and will be available to watch online.
Watch the Australian Open live:
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2. Click 'live streaming' and select 'tennis' from the dropdown menu;
3. Watch Australian Open live online!