The History of the 4 Grand Slam Tournaments
The Grand Slam is the combination of tennis’ four biggest and most important annual tournaments. It draws thousands of spectators annually and the atmosphere during these events is world-class. The Grand Slam is smothered in tradition and history, and each event is as unique as the next.
This illustrious tournament includes the Australian Open (mid-January), the French Open, also known as Roland Garros (late May to early June), Wimbledon (June to July), and finally the US Open (August to September). It wasn’t until 1925 that it was officially announced that these four tournaments were to become the Grand Slam and from that day forward, it has been on every tennis player’s and fan’s calendar.
The term Grand Slam refers to the achievement of winning all 4 of these tournaments in a single calendar year. It could be from any of the following five events: men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, or mixed doubles.
Each tournament is played over a two-week period and there are a few notable differences between the locations. The Australian and the United States tournaments are played on hard courts, the French Open is played on clay, and Wimbledon is famously played on grass courts.
It’s difficult to say which event is the best to experience as they all have their attractions but Wimbledon has long been argued as the number one Grand Slam tournament to visit. Wimbledon dates back to 1877 when the first tournament was played on the grass lawns of the All England Club. Not only is it tennis’ longest-running tournament, but there are a number of other traditions to keep an eye out for at Wimbledon. The all-white dress code, royal and celebrity appearances, and how can you go all the way to Wimbledon and not enjoy a glass of Pimm’s alongside some fresh strawberries and cream?
The US Open is easily the most famous professional tennis tournament in the States and traditionally, the last tournament on the circuit. The first official tournament took place in 1881 and to this day, is one of the liveliest and exuberant of the four. Not only is the tournament thrilling to watch but its host, New York City, adds to the whole experience!
The first tournament of the Grand Slam tournament and one not to be missed! Kick-off the year at the distinguished Australian Open in Melbourne. Originally started in 1905, the Australian Open at Melbourne Park was officially added as the first event of the Grand Slam in 1987 and hasn’t changed since. Being the event with the highest attendance, with around 812,000 tennis fans making their voices heard at the 2020 Australian Open, it’s certainly one not to be missed.
Then there’s the French Open. Tennis fans are truly spoilt for choice and being held in Paris, this is another unmissable Grand Slam tournament. Originally established in 1891, it was only open to French players or foreign players who were a member of a French club during the first 34 years of its existence. It was eventually added to the Grand Slam as an event in 1925 and has become renowned for being the most difficult place to play due to the clay playing surface (unless you’re Rafael Nadal, who has won an incredible 12 French Open Championships).
Speaking of previous winners, the feat of winning all four tournaments in a single year, a Grand Slam Champion, belongs to 5 different players winning it 6 times:
1938 Don Budge, United States
1953 Maureen Connolly, United States
1962 Rod Laver, Australia
1969 Rod Laver, Australia
1970 Margaret Smith Court, Australia
1988 Steffi Graf, Germany
1951 Frank Sedgman and Ken McGregor, Australia
1984 Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, United States
1960 Maria Bueno (with two partners), Brazil
1998 Martina Hingis (with two partners), Switzerland
1963 Margaret Smith and Ken Fletcher, Australia
1967 Owen Davidson, Australia (with two partners)
If we’re talking about ’Career Grand Slams’ however, the numbers rise. A career grand slam refers to the accomplishment of winning each of the four major championships during a player’s career. The list below shows who has completed this feat and the location of the last major they won to complete it:
Men’s Singles (8)
Fred Perry, England (1935 French Championships)
Don Budge, United States (1938 French Championships)
Rod Laver, Australia (1962 US Championships)
Roy Emerson, Australia (1964 Wimbledon)
Andre Agassi, United States (1999 French Open)
Roger Federer, Switzerland (2009 French Open)
Rafael Nadal, Spain (2010 US Open)
Novak Djokovic, Serbia (2016 French Open)
Women’s Singles (10)
Maureen Connolly Brinker, United States (1953 French Championships)
Doris Hart, United States (1954 US Championships)
Shirley Fry Irvin, United States (1957 Australian Championships)
Margaret Smith Court, Australia (1963 Wimbledon)
Billie Jean King, United States (1972 French Open)
Chris Evert, United States (1982 Australian Open)
Martina Navratilova, United States (1983 US Open)
Steffi Graf, Germany (1988 US Open)
Serena Williams, United States (2003 Australian Open)
Maria Sharapova (2012 French Open)