The Racquet Club of Memphis is the only private club in the world to host a professional men's and women's combined indoor event. And it all began with one man's vision.
In 1974, Memphis cotton merchant William B. "Billy" Dunavant, Jr. announced the city would soon have a facility designed and built solely for the presentation of tennis in a world-class environment. He purchased the Memphis Athletic Club and immediately began a $7 million expansion that would fashion the facility into the current Racquet Club of Memphis.
In 1977, the tournament was designated as the U.S. Indoor National Championships. Total prize money was $225,000. And tennis legend Björn Borg walked away with the winner's check, starting a tradition of champions that, since 1976, includes nine men who have finished the year ranked No. 1 in the world (Borg, Connors, McEnroe, Edberg, Lendl, Agassi, Courier, Sampras and Roddick). Not only did they play this event, but they won it.
Construction was completed on a 5,000-seat stadium, complete with 16 luxury executive suites - the first in the world built exclusively for tennis. Designed to provide a uniquely intimate setting, the furthest seat from the stadium court is as close as the nearest seat at most other tournaments, giving every spectator the feeling of being in the middle of the action.
With the advent of corporate sponsorship in the mid-1980s, the tournament's title sponsors included Volvo (1986-1991), Federal Express (1992), and Kroger (1993) with a multi-year commitment that included a beneficiary role for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Today, the title sponsor of the ATP men’s event is Regions Financial and Morgan Keegan, Inc.
In November 2001, The Racquet Club purchased the franchise rights to a WTA event that had been held in Oklahoma City since 1990. With the addition of the women’s competition, the tournament became one of a select few in the world to host a professional men's and women's combined event. In January 2002, the tournament announced that Cellular South was signing on as title sponsor of the women's portion of the event. The winner of the women's singles championship is now awarded the Cellular South Cup.
In 2012, tournament officials announced that the men's and women's tournament would be moving to Brazil in 2014. Men's and women's tennis would be played in Memphis through 2013. In order to keep professional tennis in Memphis, the San Jose ATP event was purchased and will be moved to Memphis in 2014.