THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN (AO) has long been a high point in the nation’s cultural calendar. Every January, fans from Australia and round the world ditch their New Year’s resolutions and head to Victoria for a fortnight of watching the world’s best battle it out in the sweltering Melbourne heat. This year, players Aryna Sabalenka and Jannick Sinner were crowned champions and the tournament broke records with over a million spectators in attendance across the two weeks. But it wasn’t just the fans making this year’s tournament special. While sport’s ties with luxury fashion have become increasingly close in recent years, tennis has seemingly been behind the pace. Until now. With some impressive on-court style from the likes of Sinner, as well as Carlos Alcaraz, and Coco Gauff, the AO now officially has the Louis Vuitton stamp of approval, with the French maison designing the trophy trunk for both the men’s and women’s finals.
The finals weekend began with a not-so-closely contested match between Belarus’ Sabalenka and China’s Qinwen Zheng. The second seed Sabelenka was simply too powerful for Zheng, overcoming the 21-year-old who was appearing in her first Grand Slam final. Sabalenka’s second AO victory marked the first time in 11 years the women’s draw has had a back-to-back winner and the Belarusian was awarded the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup trophy in front of Australian tennis royalty, seven-time Grand Slam champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who presented the Louis Vuitton trunk alongside actor Joel Edgerton.
The following day saw Italy’s Sinner appearing in his maiden Grand Slam final, defeat Daniil Medvedev of Russia. While Medvedev got off to a blistering start, Sinner edged back into the match with each game played. Eventually, the Russian’s more defensive style of play was broken down by Sinner’s fluid groundstrokes. At a sprightly 21 years old the former competitive skier never appeared to tire, looking more and more dominant as the match wore on. Sinking to the ground after winning, Sinner’s victory is the first time since 2014 someone not named Federer, Nadal or Djokovic has won the Australian Open and could herald a changing of the guard in the men’s game. Sinner joins Carlos Alcaraz of Spain and Norway’s Casper Ruud, as one of the few players on the men’s tour capable of finally toppling the recent dominance of Novak Djokovic. The red-headed Italian was presented the trophy following the unveiling of the Louis Vuitton trunk by Oscar-nominated actor Ana de Armas and US tennis legend Jim Courier.
The bespoke trunks unveiled at the AO are both handcrafted by Louis Vuitton artisans in the Maison’s ateliers in Asnières, just outside Paris. Having previously designed the trophy trunks for the Ballon D’or award in football and the recent Rugby World Cup, the savvy move by the fashion giant is proof of the growing cultural relevance of professional sport and marks the start of a new and exciting era in modern tennis. As always, Louis Vuitton is ahead of the game.