Miami Sports

The Amazing Miami Open History

A talented tennis player standing on the court mid-swing.

The Miami Open remains one of the most prominent sporting events in the world, with players and fans joining from across the world

Miami has some of the most incredible sporting events and tournaments in the world, including the Miami Open, which recently concluded in April 2022. In fact, the tournament is one of the most widely-anticipated sporting events in the world, with the top players from across the globe coming together to play in some of the most nail-biting matches.

But how did this tournament even come to be? Let’s go over a brief history of this incredible tournament known as the Miami Open here:

How did the Miami Open first start out?

The Miami Open was an idea that came about when some of the most well-known tennis players of the time, namely Jack Kramer, Frank Sedgman, Pancho Gonzalez, Pancho Segura, and Butch Buchholz, went around the US  in a station wagon, carrying a portable canvas court. They played in dingy arenas and grounds, touring through the country and looking for places to share their talents and passions. This was in the 1960s before Open tennis tournaments, as we know them today, were not the norm, and it was quite exclusive.

Who were the main founders of the Miami Open? 

Although the Handsome Eight, as they were known, were instrumental to the tournament, it was Butch Buchholz who truly took the idea forward during his tenure as the ATP’s executive director. Buccholz had taken early retirement due to a serious case of tennis elbow but remained passionate about the game and connected with the vice president of the Thomas J. Lipton Company.

Buccholz had made a proposition regarding a 2-week long tournament featuring players, that would be sponsored by Lipton at $1.5 million annually, for five years. This also meant that the title would remain under Lipton’s ownership, hence the reason why it was known as the Lipton International Players Championship and Lipton Championship before eventually being renamed the Miami Open.

player court tennis 1280x848 - The Amazing Miami Open History

The way the tournament has grown over the years

After getting the go-ahead from Lipton, Buccholz then reached out to the ATP and Women’s International Tennis Association, incentivizing them with a cut of the ticket sales, a set prize money, and global television rights. Eventually, they agreed in exchange for him being allowed to manage the tournament for fifteen years.

In 1985 the tournament kicked off and exceeded all expectations, sold out tickets, and was a hit success. However, the venue was eventually moved to Boca West, and then finally, Miami. This move was facilitated by Merrett Stierheim, who was the then-Dade County Manager as well as the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Executive Director. Stierheim helped the tournament find its permanent home at what became the Tennis Center at Crandon Park.  

In 2019, however, the tournament once more moved homes to the Hard Rock Stadium, which was another incredible move on their part and brought in record-breaking audience numbers.

Today, the Miami Open is one of the most widely anticipated sporting events in the world and is a part of the WTA Tour, ATP Tour, and many international circuits for elite players.

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