After a two year pause for the pandemic, Kids Tennis Day returned to the 2023 Australian Open as the conclusion of Welcome Week.
Billed as “a colourful wonderland of activities and entertainment for families”, 12,000 fans attended throughout the day.
Around the precinct, children’s TV characters put on shows and did meet and greets alongside Justice League superheroes, BMX bikes performed stunts and a giant waterslide cooled kids off.
The incredibly clever magician Anthony Demasi aka Luigi Zucchini wowed children and their parents with “how did he do that?” routines.
For many, it was a relief to enter Rod Laver Arena for The Arena Spectacular, with the roof closed and the air conditioning on. The temperature outside rose to 38°C and there was no cloud cover to filter the sun’s heat. The ultra violet radiation was rated Extreme.
The Spectacular featured students from the National Institute of Circus Arts and musical theatre singers Melanie Bird and Beau Woodbridge, son of Todd.
The centrepiece of the Spectacular was tennis antics performed by Jannick Sinner, Iga Świątek, Sam Stosur, Vika Azarenka, David Wagner, Storm Sanders, Ben Shelton, Nick Kyrgios, Heath Davidson and Ash Barty.
Świątek and Barty, the current and previous world number 1, played only two matches in what might have become a wonderful rivalry had Barty not retired. Now they were competing against each other to land tennis balls in tubs at the other end of the court.
The Spectacular was followed on Rod Laver Arena by a practice session with Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune. Coach Goran Ivanišević kept an eye on Djokovic as he practised. Patrick Mouratoglou accompanied Rune, whom he will coach while Simona Halep is off the tour.
Otherwise, plenty of players could be spotted practising on the outside courts.
For fans who wanted to have a hit themselves, the new AO Tennis Club hosting several varieties of tennis – Cardio, totem, table, POP and Padel – had opened just in time for Kids Day.
Title photo of The Arena Spectacular by Vanessa Taylor