TDITH: The Birth of the Open Era

Listen to the latest episode of Open Era below.

There’s nothing more exciting than a Major Grand Slam tennis tournament. The best players in the sport travel the globe to compete for some of the most prestigious trophies in all of athletics. Yet, before 1968 there was stark divide in the tennis world between amateurs and professional, and pro players were not allowed to compete in most major tournaments. This changed with the British Hard Court Championship, which began 52 years ago today, on April 22nd, 1968. The tournament was the first to mix amateur and professional players, and is considered to be the start of the Open Era of Tennis. It paved the way for tennis to become a field in which players could make a living, and would spark the chain of events that led to the creation of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), which is now the primary governing body of men’s tennis. Ken Rosewall was the victory on the Men's side of the bracket, defeating fellow Australian Rod Laver in the finals, and taking home the $2,400 cash prize (roughly $18,000 today). Women's champion Virginia Wade did not receive her $720 prize (roughly $5,300), because she was still classified as an amateur competitor, and thus, ineligible for the prize. The tournament was an important step away from the stringent amateurism requirements in the tennis world, towards a path where athletes were able to openly compete for pay. Watch coverage of the tournament below!