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Women continue to make AO history as semifinals move to prime time

The world’s best female athletes are set to shine in prime time at the Australian Open, with both women’s semifinal matches moving to the night session on Thursday, 27 January 2022.

In a first for the AO, the schedule change comes 12 years after the AO women’s final was moved to Saturday night in 2009, and 100 years after women were first included in the tournament.

“As we celebrate 100 years of women’s competition at what is now the Australian Open, I’m delighted to further showcase the women’s game by scheduling the semifinals in the prime time TV spot of Thursday night,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.

“We are incredibly fortunate in tennis to not only have great athletes in our sport, but tremendous personalities and role models. This includes our very own world No.1 and Wimbledon champion Ash Barty, recent two-time AO champion Naomi Osaka, the incredible Serena and Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters, Li Na … the list of inspirational women in tennis is long, and they are all extraordinary.

“In 2009 we moved the women’s final to the high-profile Saturday night time slot and it’s been a huge success. We attract big crowds and a massive TV audience, both across Australia and around the world. Remember these are not just the biggest names in world tennis, but the highest profile, and often highest paid, women in sport globally,” Tiley continued.

“Tennis is one of the very few global sports in which women and men compete on the same stage, earn equal prize money and have equal exposure. Although this is a source of pride, we recognise we can always do more as we continue to strive for equality, inclusion and diversity throughout the sport, both on and off the court.”

Women and Girls 

Tennis Australia has a strategic commitment to be a global leader in inclusion and diversity and has developed a national Women and Girls initiative. 

Designed to improve access and opportunity to achieve gender equality in the sport, the vision is to ensure there are no limits for women and girls – on and off the court. The priorities are to drive accountability, to create an equal voice and to enrich the playing experiences for women and girls across tennis, including participation, talent, coaching, competitive play and community leadership.

Efforts to drive the plan include an expanded team of dedicated Women and Girls Leads in each state and territory, headlined by former player, Olympian and Fed Cup (now BJK Cup) representative, Casey Dellacqua. A Women and Girls Gender Equality Taskforce, comprising highly credentialed leaders in business and sport, is also on hand to provide expert advice.

100 years of women’s championships

The 100th anniversary of the women’s championships will be a focus for celebration throughout the AO, with plans for special recognition of the inaugural champion in 1922, Margaret Molesworth from New South Wales, who also won in 1923, and Joan Hartigan, a three-time winner in the 1930s.

“At a time when it was rare for women to participate in high level sport, these women – along with Daphne Akhurst, a five-time champion in the 1920s and for whom our women’s trophy is named - blazed a trail and paved the way for future generations,” Craig Tiley said.

“Margaret Molesworth and Joan Hartigan were both recognised as being in the top 10 in the world, in itself an extraordinary achievement for their times. They also continued to contribute, giving back to the sport as coaches and administrators. As we celebrate the feats of our amazing athletes today, it’s important to stop and reflect on those who came before them, and it’s a privilege to be in a position to shine the spotlight on their success.”

AO Inspirational Series

Australian Open 2022 marks the sixth edition of the AO Inspirational Series. An initiative introduced by Craig Tiley, a passionate advocate for gender equality and a founding member of the Champions of Change, Sport, it is now one of the most highly anticipated off-court events at the AO. 

Designed to celebrate women’s achievements and highlight gender equality issues, the AO Inspirational Series has a reputation for attracting distinguished high-profile international guest speakers, including trailblazer Billie Jean King, publishing and fashion icon Anna Wintour, Hollywood star and outspoken equality advocate Rebel Wilson, and most recently, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

With the women’s semifinals now commencing at 7.30pm, the AO Inspirational Series will move from its usual brunch format to the afternoon, between 3pm and 6pm. Guests will then move onto a blockbuster night at Rod Laver Arena, with the world’s best female athletes in action.

AO 2022 schedule change

The women’s semifinals have previously been played on Thursday afternoon, with the men’s semis split between the Thursday and Friday night session.

From 2022 the two women’s semifinals will be played from 7.30pm on Thursday night at Rod Laver Arena, and the men’s semis will both be played on Friday, across a day and night session.