The dream of an international tennis tournament in Miami began in the 1960s, when top tennis players such as Jack Kramer, Frank Sedgman, Pancho Gonzalez, Pancho Segura and Butch Buchholz toured the country in a station wagon, playing tennis in darkened arenas and fairgrounds. It was before the days of Open tennis, and they travelled with a portable canvas court and plenty of hopes. Buchholz - an original member of the "Handsome Eight" (the first recognized pros of Lamar Hunt's World Championship Tennis Circuit introduced in 1968) - competed until he was forced to retire from tennis in 1970 with chronic tennis elbow.
In 1980, when Buchholz was executive director of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) - the player's union - he met a vice president of the Thomas J. Lipton Company who liked his idea of creating a two-week players tournament. A sponsorship agreement would eventually be reached for $1.5 million a year for five years and Lipton would own the title. The "Winter Wimbledon," as it was first dubbed, would be the first major tournament of the year (the Australian Open was then held in December). It was decided that the first tournament would be held at Laver's International Tennis Resort in Delray Beach, 50 miles north of Miami.