It's been a long few months for Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley. He was front and center for all the 2021 Australian Open's twists and turns, and was the focus of all of the attention, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Pulling off the major required around-the-clock work and dedication, and Tiley and his team never wavered. They encountered plenty of obstacles, including pushing back the Grand Slam to February, organizing private charters and two-week quarantine hotels, dealing with multiple positive COVID-19 tests, and managing a five-day Melbourne lockdown mid-tournament.
When all was said and done, the summer Down Under was a resounding success for almost everyone involved. But Tiley had to front most of the complaints when things were not going far from according to plan.
"I got abused on the calls. It was significant," Tiley said of his regular Zoom calls with players. "There were a lot of complaints about a lot of things, and some of it was fine. We were just trying to do our best.So I made a decision that was I going to front it and I was going to take the heat from everyone, not anyone from my team.
"But normally when you take heat, you take it once. This was 15 straight days. It's like being attacked for 15 straight days, verbally."
After Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka hoisted the trophies in Rod Laver Arena, Tiley could finally let out a sigh of relief, and get a full night of sleep.
He also got to commemorate the achievement with personalized hardware.
Though the Australian Open experienced huge financial losses this year, the plan is to bounce back big time in 2022.
"I think there were many people who doubted we could pull it off," Tiley told press in Melbourne. "We can look back on it now as a highly successful event in the circumstances. I believe in the coming month, there will be a realization of the extent of what we managed to achieve in pulling off what we did."