The Indian Wells Masters or the BNP Paribas Open is underway. The tournament, which is often dubbed as the fifth grand slam, is the most-attended ATP 1000 and WTA Premier tournament. Here is a brief timeline of the Indian Wells Masters.
The tournament was initially started with the aim of raising funds for the ATP. The venue for this tournament was Tucson, Arizona. Later it was moved to the Coachella Valley.
Charlie Pasarell was a native of Puerto Rico and was a former No.1 US player. He was a board member of the ATP and the director of tennis for Landmark Land Co. It was his idea to build new tennis facilities for the tournament outside the La Quinta Hotel. After the 7500-seat tennis stadium was made, the Pasarell became the tournament director in 1981.
Newsweek Champions Cup
Pasarell was still not content with his achievement. He was eager to make this event more popular amongst the players. The La Quinta Hotel served as a successful venue for the next five years. During this time the tournament became popular amongst the players and the fans. But Pasarell wanted the event to be a major tournament and for that, he needed it to have modern facilities, larger stadium, and a permanent stadium.
Pasarell joined hands with Raymond Moore, who was the founder of a company called PM Sports Management. Indian Wells was later selected as the venue and a luxurious resort and tennis facility were constructed there. Newsweek became the title sponsor of the event and this led to the birth of Newsweek Champions Cup held in Indian Wells.
In 1986, some staggering numbers were put in front of the people. 350-room Grand Champions Hotel had 12 courts with a seating capacity of 10000 people as its center. Of the 12 courts, two were grass courts and two clay courts. In 1987 this plan was successfully implemented and it was also the first year when an event, except the slams held a men’s and women’s tournament together.
In 1990, when Hamilton Jordan founded the ATP World Tour, he included Newsweek Champions Cup as one of its elite tournaments which are now known as the ATP 1000 tournaments. In 1992, the women’s event was renamed to Evert Cup after Chris Evert. In 1997, it was categorized under WTA’s “Tier 1” category; the then highest WTA category.
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden
In 2000, across 54 acres of land, the tournament made the second largest stadium in the world with a seating capacity of 16100. This was made possible after Pasarell teamed up with IMG, the largest sports agency in the world. In 2006, the IMG withdrew 50% of its interest. New investors included USTA and players like Pete Sampras, Billie Jean King and Chris Evert.
The BNP Paribas Open
In 2009, BNP Paribas became the official title sponsor and Larry Ellison became the new owner of Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
In 2011 the tournament became the first in the world to have Hawkeye installed on every court. In the same year, Pasarell left his position as the leader.
In 2012, Raymond Moore became the new tournament CEO and Steve Simon became the new tournament Director.
In 2013, the expansion of the stadium started and within 11 months the stadium was ready to accept a record attendance. In 2014, 431000 people attended the tournament which was the highest in the history of any non-grand slam event.
At Indian Wells, the prize money for the champion has increased to more than $10 million.
The Men’s singles titles have witnessed Novak Djokovic win the title 5 times. The Serb along with Roger Federer have been in finals of the Indian Wells Masters for 6 times. Lindsay Davenport has reached the women’s singles final on 6 occasions and has won 2 of them.