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The Australian Open is a major tennis tournament held annually over the last fortnight of January in Melbourne, Australia. First held in 1905, the tournament is chronologically the first of the four Grand Slam tennis events of the year – the other three being the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. It features men’s and women’s singles; men’s, women’s and mixed doubles and junior’s championships; as well as wheelchair, legends and exhibition events. Prior to 1988 the tournament had been played on grass. Since 1988 two types of hardcourt surfaces have been used at Melbourne Park – green Rebound Ace to 2007 and blue Plexicushion from 2008.
The Australian Open typically has high attendance, second only to the US Open. It was also the first Grand Slam tournament to feature indoor play during wet weather or extreme heat with its three primary courts, the Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena and the refurbished Margaret Court Arena equipped with retractable roofs.
The Australian Open is broadcast globally on television and online through some of the most established broadcasters in world sport. In Australia, the Australian Open has been broadcast by the Seven Network since 1973. Between 2003 and 2009, it was co-broadcast by Fox Sports. The Australian Open men’s singles final is traditionally one of the most watched sports events in Australia. In the rest of Asia-Pacific, Fox Sports broadcasts it across South-East Asia, Wowow and NHK in Japan, CCTV, Shanghai TV and iQiyi in China, Sony Six in India and the Sub-Continent, Sky in New Zealand and Fiji TV across Oceania-Pacific.
In Europe the tournament is broadcast on Eurosport. Other broadcasters in the region have included the BBC in the United Kingdom, SRG in Switzerland, NOS in Netherlands and RTS in Serbia. In the UK, the BBC dropped its live coverage of the 2016 tournament just a month before the start due to budget cuts, leaving Eurosport as the exclusive live broadcaster.