The tennis tour is long and gruelling for the players but fan and exciting to fans. Of all the tournaments available on the calendar, the grand slams are the highlight for players and fans.
Spectators get to watch the best players in action as players get the chance to play at the highest level of the game.
Seasoned tennis fans know all too well about the grand slams. If you do not, this article will help you to understand what grand slams in tennis are.
What Are the Grand Slams in Tennis?
The grand slams are the four most distinguished tournaments on the tennis tour. The 4 grand slams are the Australian Open, Wimbledon, the French Open and the US Open. The Australia and US Open are played on the hard courts, Wimbledon on grass and the French Open on clay.
Let’s now learn more about each tennis grand slam.
Nicknamed “the happy slam”, the Australian Open is the first grand slam in the tennis calendar, and the highest attended Grand Slam event. It takes place in Australia at Melbourne Park in in the middle of January and continues for two weeks.
All forms of tennis are available – the men’s and women’s singles which are the most popular, the men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles. Novak Djokovic holds the record of winning the most Australian Open titles with 9, whilst Margaret Court leads in the women’s category with 7 titles.
Before 1988, competitors played on grass, but three types of hardcourt surfaces were added, namely a green-coloured cushioned tennis hardcourt that featured until 2007, a blue surface that replaced the green hardcourt from 2008 to 2019, and the current blue that’s been in use since 2020.
The Australian Open was the first Grand Slam to feature indoor play during extreme conditions (heat or rain).
2. French Open
The French Open is the second of the four grand slams in tennis, happening after The Australian Open, and before both Wimbledon and the US Open.
Up until 1975, the French Open was the only major tournament that didn’t feature a grass surface. Its clay surface is considered one of the most challenging tennis tournaments in the world owing to clays effect on the ball, i.e., slower speeds, and higher bounce.
Like the Australian Open, we have the men’s and women’s singles and doubles as well as the mixed doubles. Rafael Nadal is the most successful player on this surface with 14 titles. Chris Evert tops the women’s game with seven.
Wimbledon, AKA The Wimbledon Championships, is the oldest (1877) and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. It is held at the All England Club in London between late June and early July and is the only one of the only one of the four grand slams in tennis played on outdoor grass courts.
Wimbledon maintains a strict all-white dress code for players, has royal family patronage and minimal advertising.
Roger Federer is the most successful male tennis player on the grass with eight singles titles whilst Martina Navratilova tops in the women’s singles with nine.
4. US Open
The US Open is one of the oldest tennis championships in the world. Originally known as the U.S. National Championship, it is the fourth and final grand slam tournament of the year and the only other that’s played on hard courts.
It is held in Queens, New York, and takes place between August and September, lasting about 2 weeks.
The tournament is run by the United States Tennis Association (USTA), and all revenue from ticket sales, TV contracts and sponsorships goes toward further developing tennis in the United States.
Jimmy Conors, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer are all tied on five titles. In the women’s tour, Serena Williams has the most titles with six in the open era.
Why Are There Only Four Grand Slams in Tennis?
According to sources, there were more than four grand slams in tennis between the years 1891 and 1925. It is thought that rule changes might have caused the collapse of the others, particularly when professional tennis players were allowed to compete and earn prize money from these tournaments.
Initially, the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) allowed amateurs to compete in grand slams and blocked pros whom they thought would deny upcoming players a chance to win the event.
However, with pressure mounting on them to open the tour, they finally gave in and handed the leadership of the game to the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
The ITF allowed professionals to play in grand slams and prohibited amateurs. Hence, some events weren’t able to survive these changes and thus the number, thought to be seven shrunk to four and hence the grand slams in the tennis calendar.
Frequently Asked Questions
The term “grand slam” was initially used in card games where someone would possess all tricks to win a game. In tennis terms, it is used to mean winning all four grand slams in one year, an achievement defined as the calendar slam. As pointed out in the previous section, the term grand slam is used to refer to each of the four major competitions.
Rafael Nadal has the most grand slam titles in men’s tennis with 22. He’s won 14 of these at the French Open, two at the Australian Open, four at the US Open and two at Wimbledon.
He has one more grand slam than Novak Djokovic on 21 and two more than Roger Federer.
Margaret Court holds the most number of grand slam titles in women’s tennis. She has 24 singles titles to her name and Serena Williams is on a quest to equal her record. Williams equalled Steffi Graff’s 22 grand slams record in 2016, won the Australian Open title in 2017 to get to 23 but has since failed to win another major.
Wimbledon is one of the four grand slam tournaments on the tennis calendar. It is the oldest and considered the most prestigious of the four. However, its status is under threat after the ATP and WTA deducted its ranking points after its controversial decision to unilaterally ban Ukrainian and Belarusian players from the 2022 event.