Cheryl Jenkins will become the Australian Open’s first female Chief Umpire next year after Brian Grace steps down from the top job after officiating at the tennis tournament for more than 35 years.
Jenkins first started in tennis as a ball kid before becoming an ITF Bronze Badge Chair Umpire and has now racked up 27 years of officiating experience including 25 years as a member of the Australian Open officiating team and 10 years as part of the tournament’s Chief Umpire team.
Jenkins has been the Chief Umpire for WTA events including the Brisbane International and Tianjin Open, as well as Davis and Fed Cup ties.
She has also officiated at the Olympics in Sydney and Beijing, the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open.
Overseeing a team of 400 international and Australian officials, Jenkins will be responsible for the umpiring operations at the Australian Open.
“I’m very honoured and privileged to fill the shoes of Brian and step into the role of Australian Open Chief Umpire,” Jenkins said.
“Being the first Australian female hopefully inspires more female officials.
“Never in my wildest dreams as a ball kid running around the courts at the old Milton stadium did I ever consider being a Chief Umpire, let alone being the Chief at the Australian Open.
Australian Open Tournament Director, Craig Tiley, said: “To see Cheryl become the first female Chief Umpire of the Australian Open is a fantastic moment in the tournament’s history.
“Cheryl has been working in our team for a decade and has 27 years’ experience as a tournament official.
“We couldn’t think of a better person for the role.
“We look forward to working with her and the team to ensure our tournament continues to run smoothly.”
Brian Grace, who will take on a consulting role to ensure a seamless transition, is happy to see Jenkins move into this position.
“I am delighted Tennis Australia has appointed Cheryl to the position of Chief of Officials for AO 2020.
“I have worked closely with Cheryl for more than ten years and have seen her develop into an excellent chief,” Grace said.
“Cheryl is a loyal, hardworking and a detail-oriented person, all key qualities required for the role.
“Cheryl will continue to enjoy my full support and I commend Tennis Australia on their decision.”