The Australian Open has jumped on one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency crazes by launching a series of non-fungible tokens of coveted tennis memorabilia.
Various items and scenes from the sport between 1970 and 2020 are depicted in the NFTs, including tennis rackets, umpire chairs, courts and players.
“The AO has made it a habit to unveil world firsts, and this year is no different. We’re sharing the story of the Australian Open through the decades with NFTs,” Tennis Australia’s metaverse and NFT project manager Ridley Plummer said.
NFTs are based on blockchain technology and are increasingly being used to digitally represent physical assets like real estate and artwork, helping to reduce the risk of fraud.
Professional sporting organisations around the world have started to produce and sell NFTs, marketing the digital tokens as new collectibles for fans.
The National Football League and National Basketball Association in the US both unveiled NFT marketplaces last year to give supporters the chance to buy and trade digital collectibles.
Each unique token often features a player or a video highlight.
Tennis Australia said its push into NFTs signalled its commitment to innovation, growth and technology.
“The collection showcases the AO as one of the most innovative and forward-thinking events in the tennis world,” it said.
The NFT collections were scheduled to be released by decade over the course of the tournament, starting with the 1970s on Monday. The last drop showcasing 2020 is planned for January 27.
A limited number of collectibles were made available for each decade and most of the items had a fixed price.
The player card was priced at $249.99, the court $74.99 and the umpire chair $24.99.
Only one tennis racket was created for each decade and was being auctioned. The 1970s edition had a bid of $940 at 1.30pm with 15 hours to go.