Frew Park: Reflecting Queensland’s tennis history

Frew Park, a 3.5 hectare parkland developed on the site of the former Milton Tennis Centre, is due to open in December.

The park’s redevelopment will include the new Roy Emerson Tennis Centre, with six tennis courts, a rebound wall, kiosk, and lounge and administration facilities.

In a nod to the site’s history, a new youth playground will be called The Arena. The playground is specifically designed for children aged 10 to 15 years, complementing nearby suburban play areas that cater for younger children. The Arena will include a large climbing wall, five metre high curly slide, climbing nets and cages (including a mesh cage that is eight metres off the ground), and other surfaces for climbing or sitting.

A large open space in the park is named Wendy Turnbull Green, honouring Brisbane tennis legend Wendy Turnbull, who was a Grand Slam winning doubles and mixed doubles player on nine occasions during the 1970s and 1980s.

Frew Park will also include open grassed spaces, picnic areas, exercise equipment and a carpark.

Queensland Lawn Tennis Association Clubhouse at Milton Queensland 1958

Queensland Lawn Tennis Association Clubhouse at Milton, Queensland, 1958. State Library of Queensland.

Those of you who were familiar with the old Milton tennis courts may remember the giant tennis racquet that towered over the centre. Brisbane identity, Stefan Ackerie, who acquired the racquet after the centre was closed in 1999, has kindly donated the racquet to the redevelopment project. It will be rejuvenated before taking pride of place at the entrance to the park.

The Milton Tennis Centre was originally opened in 1915, and had 19 hard courts and four grass courts. It played host to eight Australian Championships, including the first Australian Open in 1969, and 16 Davis Cup ties, including three finals. It also served as a venue for concerts featuring legends such as the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Johnny Cash. It hosted the national lightweight boxing title in 1971, when a crowd of 10,000 watched Jeff White retain his title against Lionel Rose.

View of the tennis courts at Milton where a Davis Cup tournament is being played Brisbane 1958

View of a Davis Cup tournament at the Milton tennis courts, Brisbane, 1958. State Library of Queensland.

The centre regularly seated 7,000 people, and saw many tennis greats traverse its courts, including Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Tony Roche, John Newcombe and Lindsay Davenport. The wooden grandstands were declared unsafe in 1994, and the centre was closed in 1999 after Tennis Queensland ran into financial difficulties. Following two fires and becoming derelict, the building was demolished in 2002.

The Milton Tennis Centre was home to much of Queensland’s tennis history, and is fondly remembered by those who played on its courts, went there as spectators or attended other events. The new Frew Park redevelopment honours that history and will provide new recreational opportunities for Queenslanders.

Watching a tennis game at Milton 1934

Watching a tennis game at Milton, 1934. State Library of Queensland.

State Library of Queensland holds many treasures relating to the state’s tennis history. We have photographs, publications from the Queensland Lawn Tennis Association and other tennis organisations, articles, annual reports and ephemera, such as programs, rulebooks, handbooks and tickets. These items can be located though our One Search catalogue.

Queensland Ladies Interstate Tennis Team 1908

Queensland Ladies Interstate Tennis Team, 1908. State Library of Queensland.