Hello everyone, today is Australia Day to some, Invasion Day to others, but on the subject of tennis and the Australian Open, it’s 30 years to the day since Gentleman Jim Courier, aka ‘That American guy who commentates the Australian Open’, won his first title at Melbourne Park, defeating World No.1 Stefan Edberg in 4 sets, claiming the second of his four Grand Slam titles, and avenging his US Open Final defeat to the Swede that occurred 4 months earlier.
Rather than being boring like just about every major champion in history, Jim went back to the locker room and decided to do what no champion had ever done before, going for a run with his coach Brad Stine across Batman Avenue down to the banks of the Yarra River, where he spontaneously celebrated by jumping in the Yarra with his clothes still on, which remains one of the more memorable and unique Grand Slam title celebrations ever seen, alongside Pat Cash climbing up to the player’s box on Centre Court after he won the 1987 Wimbledon title.
Two fun facts:
The original celebratory Yarra River swim belongs to Boris Becker, who jumped in the Yarra after winning the Men’s Singles title in 1991.
The famous footage of Courier and Stine jumping in the river (As seen above) is from 1993, because nobody knew the pair were doing it in ’92, so there’s scant footage of it, and you can spot that little fact because Courier was signed to Diadora when he won in 1992, whereas he was wearing Nike apparel in 1993.
Thus, when Courier again defeated Edberg to retain his Australian Open title in 1993, the fourth estate were prepared for Jim’s swim in the Yarra River, and he didn’t disappoint, but Jim admitted he paid the price and contracted a stomach bug thanks to swallowing the the muddy, polluted water.
“Brad Stine and I have been running after every match and every practice that we’ve had for 2 weeks, running down by the river every day, and when I was in the Quarters he said “If you win this thing, I’ll dive in that river”, and I said well, if you go in, I’m following.”
Courier did, and they talked each other into doing it.
I can only think, the last time that many people watched an American jump into the Yarra was Harry Houdini in 1910.