Tennis Grand Slam History, facts and first players to win it

Sportarsh Team
Sportarsh Team
13 Min Read

Hello and welcome to sportarsh. At the end of this article, you will get to know what the term Grand Slam means and also; how the term itself came about. In addition, we shall provide you with a list of winners of the Tennis Grand Slam. But before we continue, make sure to click on the bell icon you see on your screens to get instant updates from us.

The Tennis Grand Slam:

Watching tennis on the television as a newbie is quite frustrating when you have no idea of the terms being used. For die hard Tennis fans, many are quite aware of what a Tennis Grand Slam is. But If you happen to be a newbie, don’t worry as this article is purposely tailored for you. Before we explain what a Tennis Grand Slam is, you need to know how the term came about. The term Grand Slam was first used in card games even before the International Tennis Federation adopted it. In card games, a player is deemed to have done the grand slam after winning all the tricks. The term soon found its way into the sport of Golf where a player is deemed to have done the Grand Slam after winning all of Golf’s major championships in a single calendar year.

Now if we should go by Golf’s definition of a Grand Slam; then a Tennis Grand Slam occurs when a player is able to win all four of Tennis’s most prestigious tournaments in a single calendar year. The four tournaments that makes up the grand slam are;

  • The Australian Open
  • French Open
  • Wimbledon
  • and The US Open

These tour games are played every year and in chronological order. Grand Slam as a term, first found its way into tennis in 1933; when an American journalist by name John Kieran tried describing player Jack Crawford’s attempt to win all four titles. Although Jack Crawford couldn’t win the Grand Slam, the term Grand Slam came to stay.

Now that you have an idea of what a Tennis Grand Slam is, we shall go ahead to discuss all four tournaments of the Grand Slam. Continue reading below;

The Australian open

The first tournament we shall discuss is the Australian Open. This tournament kick starts the calendar year and it’s played from January to February of each year. The Australian Open came about when six Australian state Tennis affiliations met with the governing body of the game in New Zealand. They held a brief meeting and from the meeting came the formation of the Lawn Tennis Association of Australasia in 1904. Exactly a year after the creation of the Association, the very first Australian Championship was held, under the name The Australasian Mens Championship. It was strictly for men as it didn’t include women. Rodney Heath emerged as winner after defeating Arthur Curtis in the finals.

Australian open

It took 16 years for the very first women championships to take place. This was in 1922 and at the end of the competition, Margaret Molesworth was crowned champion. The competition in its initial years failed to attract top international players. This was mainly due to its distance from Europe to America. But remarkably, it is the most attended tournament in the Grand Slam. The attendance score for the 2020 edition was 812,000. Below is a history timeline of the Australian Open;

  • Formation of the Lawn Tennis Association of Australasia1904
  • First Australian Championship held1905
  • First Champion of the Australasian Men’s Championship Rodney Heath 1905
  • Australasian Women’s Championship first edition1922
  • Maiden winner of the Australasian women championshipMargaret Molesworth
  • Change of name to Australian Open1969

The French Open

After the Australian Open comes to an end, players have a maximum of about two months to prepare for the next competition, which is the French Open. The French Open, also known as the Roland Garros is the second Grand Slam tournament of the year. It is usually played from May to June and is held in Paris, France. Going back to history lane, the competition was first held in 1891and was only meant for men, as well as French nationals only. One interesting aspect is that, the eventual winner ‘ H.Briggs‘ was actually a British tennis player. He was allowed to participate mainly because he resided in Paris. The women finally had their chance to participate when the very first ladies championship was introduced in 1897. From all of the Grand Slam tournaments, it is the only one which is played on a red clay surface.

French open

After more than two decades of the tournament being made available to only French residents, rules were finally changed to make way for international players. This happened in 1925 and remains so even till today. Unlike the Australian Open which has an average attendance of about 800 thousand, the French Open has an estimated average of 500,000 spectators. Below is a history timeline of the French Open;

  • First competition held1891
  • First winnerH.Briggs
  • Maiden Edition of the ladies championship1897
  • Tournament became available to international players1925

The Wimbledon

You guessed right, the Wimbledon Tennis championship is the third Grand Slam event played right after the French open. It usually takes place late June and ends in July. But did you know the Wimbledon is the oldest tennis event in the world?. Yes, the tournament was founded as far back as 1877 in Wimbledon, London. Modern day tennis can be traced to this event. The idea behind the creation of the tournament came about when the All England lawn tennis and Croquet Club decided to create a competition in order to raise money to repair a broken roller at the club. But to their surprise, the competition became a success and till date it’s the most respected tournament in the world.

Wimbledon

In its initial years, the competition wasn’t open to women. It was not until 1884 that women had the chance to represent. In the Wimbledon, players are referred to as ”Gentelmen” and ”Ladies”. Also, they are required to put on all white attires during play. Unlike the other grand slam events, the Wimbledon is still the only one played on a grass surface. That is, since 1877, they have played solely on Grass courts. Below is a history timeline of the Wimbledon;

  • First competition held1877
  • First winner of the championshipSpencer Gore
  • Maiden edition of the women’s edition1884
  • First players to introduce the overhead smash Renshaw brothers
  • First international ladies championMay Sutton
  • 1st International men’s championNorman Brookes

The US Open

Us open

The last Grand Slam tour event we will talk about is the US Open. This is the last event of the calendar year and is played from August to September. The tournament was first held on 1881 in Newport casino under the name US National Singles Championship for men. As the name implies, it was strictly for men. The ladies however had their chance to represent when a separate women competition was created in 1887. It came under the name ‘US Womens national Singles Championship’. Initially played on a grass court, it was changed to clay in 1975. Another court change occurred in 1978 when the US Open decided to play on hard court surfaces. It has remained so till date. Below is a history timeline of the US Open;

  • First Nation championship – 1881
  • First Men’s Championship winner – Dick Sears
  • Maiden edition of women’s championship – 1887
  • First Women champion – Ellen Forde Hansell Alderice

Tennis Grand Slam Winners

This will be our last section for discussion. Winning all four major championships in a single calendar year is not easy. The last time a player won the Grand Slam was in 1988. She goes by name Steffi Graf. So far only 5 players can be named as winners of the Tennis Grand Slam. They are;

  • Don Budge in 1938
  • Maureen Connolly in 1953
  • Rod Laver in both 1962 and 1969
  • Margaret Court in 1970
  • Steffi Graf in 1988
First tennis Grand slam winners
from the left is Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Rod laver, Margaret Court and Steffi Graf. Image via wiki commons

Perhaps you have heard people say “Rafael Nadal has won the grand slam or let’s say Roger Federer has won the grand slam”. As we speak, both haven’t won the grand slam yet. What they have actually is the Career Grand Slam. Incase you are confused, a Career Grand Slam is when a player is able to win all the four major tennis tournaments during his playing career instead of a single calendar year. Let me give you an example. Supposing I won the French Open in 2006, the US Open in 2007, the Australian Open in 2008 and the Wimbledon in 2009, then it means I have completed a career Grand Slam. Below is a table showing winners of the tennis career grand slam

Men Career Grand Slam winnersWomen Career Grand Slam winners
Fred PerryMaureen Connolly
Don BudgeDoris Hart
Rod LaverShirley Fry Irvin
Roy EmersonMargaret Court
Andre AgassiBillie Jean King
Roger FedererChris Evert
Rafael NadalMartina Navratilova
Novak DjokovicSteffi Graf

Serena Williams

Maria Sharapova

Golden Slam

Before we go, there is one last thing I want to briefly discuss. And that is the Golden Slam. So what actually is the Golden Slam? . A Golden Slam occurs when a player manages to win each of the four major grand slam tournaments in addition to an Olympic gold medal. So far Steffi Graf is the only player to achieve this feet in a single year, in 1988. Below shows the list of Golden Slam winners.

  • Andre Agassi
  • Brothers (Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan)
  • Gigi Fernandez
  • Steffi Graf
  • Rafael Nadal
  • Daniel Nestor
  • Pam Shriver
  • Serena Williams
  • Venus Williams
  • Todd Woodbridge
  • Mark Woodforde

Conclusion

This brings us to the close of an interesting topic. I hope you have learnt much from this Article. If you love this write up, don’t forget to share. Also you can leave your thoughts by way of comments in our comments section below. Thank you for reading.

References:

https://www.olympedia.org/lists/1/manual

https://www.topendsports.com/events/tennis-grand-slam/winners.htm

https://www.topendsports.com/events/tennis-grand-slam/history.htm

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Slam_(tennis)

https://www.tennistheme.com/australianopentennishistory.html

https://www.tennistheme.com/wimbledontennishistory/wimbledontennishistory02.html

https://www.tennistheme.com/usopentennishistory.html

https://www.tennistheme.com/frenchopentennishistory.html

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