Within a year of the first Wimbledon Championships in 1877, the citizens of Melbourne enthusiastically embraced the new sport of lawn tennis.
In its infant years the Melbourne Cricket Club controlled the game and in 1892 the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, known as the Lawn Tennis Association of Victoria, was formed to take over administration of tennis in the colony of Victoria.
Melbourne-born Norman Brookes' sensational Wimbledon victory in 1907, followed a month later with his capture of the Davis Cup in partnership with New Zealander Anthony Wilding, was a turning point in the Club's development. Courts were rented for the first time at the Albert Ground in St Kilda Road to stage Australia's first Davis Cup, for which Brookes, a member of the Association's Council, was the sole selector and mainstay of the home team.
After the First World War, Australian tennis received a further boost with the two Wimbledon Singles victories in 1919 and 1922 of Gerald Patterson, another Melburnian. To accommodate the growing popularity of the game a seventeen-acre site was purchased in the Melbourne suburb of Kooyong (from the Aboriginal word kooyongkoot meaning ‘the haunt of the wild fowl'). Twenty lawn courts were laid out, and a Clubhouse and concrete stadium built to host Kooyong's first Australian Championship in 1927.
In the following years the Kooyong courts were graced by a succession of international players.
Prominent among these were Jean Borotra, Ellsworth Vines, Fred Perry and Donald Budge whose victory over John Bromwich in the Victorian Singles Championships at Kooyong in 1937 paved the way for his Australian title victory and the first leg in his historic Grand Slam.
Following the Second World War, Kooyong was the venue for seven memorable Davis Cup Challenge rounds, the most famous of which took place in 1953 when Australian teenagers, Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall defeated the Americans, Tony Trabert and Vic Seixas. Kooyong's last Challenge Round in 1986 saw Australia defeat Sweden after two notable singles victories by Pat Cash.
The next year the Australian National Titles were played for the last time on the Kooyong grass centre court after which the venue was switched to the high-tech National Tennis Centre in Flinders Park. At that time, the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club ceased to be responsible for the day-to-day administration of tennis in Victoria and embarked on a programme of progressively upgrading its facilities to meet the demands of a new generation of Members.
The Club's current main event the Kooyong Classic, held each January before the Australian Open, regularly attracts leading international players and maintains the Club's tradition as an internationally significant tennis venue.