MELBOURNE, Australia — At any given time of the year, thousands of people travel to Melbourne, Australia, to experience its artsy culture, tasty cuisine, and breathtaking attractions. But in January, the main reason people flock to the city is for tennis.
Melbourne hosts the Australian Open, a 14-day international tennis tournament. Players from around the globe compete in singles and doubles matches for grand prizes totaling 33 million Australian Dollars.
The Australian Open is about the experience. It gives people of all ages and backgrounds a piece of the sports culture as it spreads across the city, from hotels to parks.
For Brad Rees, the experience is everything. Rees, who lives three hours outside the city, made the journey to attend the Australian Open for the first time this year. He said he appreciates the sports culture of Melbourne and enjoys meeting people who share the same appreciation.
“Seeing all of [the tennis players] talent, young and old, and getting to know new people. People from different countries,” Rees said. “It’s all just having a good time, really.”
The city creates an environment for people to enjoy the tournament inside and outside the stadium. For those who cannot attend the competition itself, large television screens across the city give updates on the latest happenings with the tournament, and it is shown on every television in every bar in the city.
Cale Hutchings works at the Crown Hotel in Melbourne and has noticed a big difference in the atmosphere this month.
“It’s really great for Crown,” Hutchings said. “With the Crown tennis live site…it’s really awesome. I think it’s really exciting. Melbourne’s a good place for it. A lot of people are here from around the world. “
Signs advise Melbourne natives and incoming tourists to “Get Court Up” with the competition. Outside shopping centers, the faces of tennis stars are slapped on billboards advertising clothes and accessories.
“I just think it’s amazing that we can actually have this in Australia,” said Hutchings. “You see it overseas, you know Wimbledon and all that and how big it is, but you never really realize that [the Australian Open] just around the corner from where you are.”