January 12, 2011
Four days ago, Patrick Rafter Arena hosted the final of the Brisbane International. Now it's underwater.
The massive flood that has ravaged the state of Queensland this week left the year-old arena submerged, with water seeping into the indoor stadium and covering the court so that the top of the net barely peeks through:
The Queensland Tennis Center, with 23 courts of all surfaces, opened in 2009 at a cost of $82 million. Its Centre Court was named after local hero and two-time U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter.
Some damage to a new tennis facility is the least of Queensland's worries, though. The floods have led to 22 deaths and scores of missing people. Footage of the powerful waters overturning cars like toys shows the power and destruction of the floods. Damages from the flood are expected to top $5 billion.
Tennis players are already beginning relief efforts, with Roger Federer planning to organize a charity event on Sunday, prior to the start of the Australian Open. He made a similar effort last year when the earthquake in Haiti hit prior to the year's first Grand Slam.