Memorial Drive; The Drive
The main court at Memorial Drive, showing the northern grandstand
|Location||War Memorial Drive,|
Adelaide, South Australia
|Operator||Memorial Drive Tennis Club|
Memorial Drive Park, more generally referred to as "Memorial Drive", is a tennis venue, located adjacent to the Adelaide Oval, in the park lands surrounding the centre of Adelaide, South Australia. Memorial Drive took its name from the winding avenue, known as War Memorial Drive, which separates the venue from the River Torrens.
The Memorial Drive Tennis club was established in 1914, under the name South Australian Lawn Tennis Club. About 6 acres (2.4 ha) of land were leased to the club and the courts were opened in October 1921 by the Governor of South Australia, Sir Archibald Weigall. Gerald Patterson won the first South Australian Men's Singles Championship staged at the venue in 1922, the same year in which he also won Wimbledon for the second time. The following year, a clubhouse and grandstand were erected at Memorial Drive, the northern grandstand being the former stand from Adelaide Oval, which was dismantled and then reassembled. In 1938 a large permanent grandstand was erected on the northern side of the courts.
Over the years many major events have been held on the grass courts including the Davis Cup and Australian Open Championships. In 1926 the Australian men's singles title was staged at the courts for the first time, won by John Hawkes. Adelaide hosted a total of fourteen Australian championships until 1967, of which twelve were played at Memorial Drive. In 1938 American Donald Budge won the first leg of the first grand slam in tennis at Memorial Drive by defeating Australia's John Bromwich.
In January 1933 Australia played a tennis Test match against the United States. American champion Ellsworth Vines made his only appearance in Adelaide and among the Australian representatives were Harry Hopman, Adrian Quist, and John Bromwich. The following year, international matches featured the English champion Fred Perry.
Adelaide's first exposure to professional tennis involved the French dual Wimbledon champion Henri Cochet in contests against local professionals in 1935. In 1958 Pancho Gonzalez and Lew Hoad appeared at Memorial Drive as part of Jack Kramer's professional troupe. From 1974 until 2007 the Adelaide International tournament was played at Memorial Drive, and since 2009 the World Tennis Challenge has been played there.
Memorial Drive last hosted the Australian Open in 1967, with Roy Emerson winning the Men's Singles, Nancy Richey Gunter the Women's Singles, John Newcombe and Tony Roche the Men's Doubles, Lesley Turner Bowrey and Judy Tegart Dalton winning the Women's Doubles, and Turner Bowrey and Owen Davidson the Mixed Doubles. All winners were Australian with the exception of American Nancy Richey Gunter. Other than Richey Gunter, the only non-Australian finalists were Arthur Ashe (USA - Men's Singles) and Évelyne Terras (France - Women's Doubles).
In February 2019, the South Australian Government announced funding of $10 million to construct a canopy-roof structure over the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre, to prepare the venue to host the new Adelaide International, the first ATP/WTA-sanctioned event in the city in over ten years. Additional minor redevelopments in the precinct allowed Memorial Drive to host the inaugural tournament in January 2020, in the week preceding the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open.