Wimbledon Championships Grand Slams

The term ‘Grand Slam’ was first coined by ardent bridge player, John Kiernan, when describing the antics of Australian Jack Crawford in the 1930s.

He had clinched the men’s singles at the Australian and French Opens and at the All England Club, and speculation was obviously rife as to his chances of lifting the US Open singles crown. Columnist, Kiernan wrote: “If Crawford wins, it would be something like scoring a Grand Slam on the courts, doubled and vulnerable.”

The term was quickly embraced, not only by tennis players and spectators, but the golfing fraternity as well.

Since that day, the four oldest and most prestigious tournaments on the world tennis circuit have been known as ‘grand slam’ events. These are the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. Each of the tournaments is hosted on a different surface, testing the ability of the top players to adapt to different conditions.

One of the unqiue features of grand slam tournaments is the maximum number of sets played in matches in the men’s draw. While regular ATPTour events go to a maximum of three sets, all four Grand Slam events require players to win a minimum of three sets to win a match – leading to numerous five set epics.

  • The Australian Open is played on a hard court surface known as ‘Plexicushion’. This surface replaced the Rebound Ace courts of Melbourne in order to make the surface distinct from those used at the US Open.
  • The French Open is contested on the red clay found on courts throughout Europe. Some would argue that the green clay used on US courts consitutes a unqiue surface.
  • The Wimbledon Grand Slam is contested on rye grass, and is the last remaining Grand Slam which takes place on a natural surface.
  • The US Open is played out on ‘DecoTurf’ a blue hard court surface.

There’s more to grand slams than meets the eye

The term Grand Slam is also used when a player or doubles team wins all four Grand Slam events, and is further divided into:

  • Calendar Year Grand Slam or the Grand Slam – winning all four Grand Slam tournaments in a single calendar year. Since Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969, no other man has achieved this, whereas Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court and the great Steffi Graf all achieved Calendar Year Grand Slams in singles tennis during their careers.
  • In the doubles event in recent times Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver have achieved Calendar Grand Slams.
  • Non-Calendar Year Grand Slam: winning all four Grand Slams but not in a calendar year. Some recent tennis players to accomplish this are Steffi Graf and Serena Williams.
  • Career Grand Slam: Winning all four events at some point in their career, not necessarily in succession. Recent players with a Career Grand Slam include Andre Agassi, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Roger Federer. In the doubles Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, and Bob and Mike Bryan and Serena & Venus Williams have all achieved Career Grand Slams.
  • Calendar Year Golden Slam: Holding all four titles and Olympic gold in the same year. Only Steffi Graf has claimed the Calendar Year Golden Slam.
  • Career Golden Slam: Holding all four titles and Olympic gold at some point in their career. Recent players include Andre Agassi in singles and the “Woodies” and Williams sisters in doubles.
  • Small Slam: Winning three of the four tournaments in a year. Jimmy Connors and Mats Wilander achieved this in the men’s singles events, while Martina Hingis and Monica Seles also scored Small Slams.
  • The Career ‘Boxed Set’: Winning the singles, doubles and mixed doubles at all four events. In recent years Margaret Court and Martina Navratilova are the only tennis players to have clinched the ‘Boxed Set’. Serena Williams only has to win the mixed doubles at the Australian and French Opens to achieve her career ‘Boxed Set’.