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What Is A Grand Slam Tournament?

Grand Slam events in tennis are the four most important tournaments that happen throughout one season.

Grand Slam events in tennis are the four most important tournaments that happen throughout one season. A tennis season lasts from January to November, and the four tournaments locations are in Australia, France, England, and the United States. They are, respectively, called the Australian Open (played in Melbourne), Roland Garros (held in Paris), Wimbledon (played in London), and the US Open (located in Queens, New York).  

Why Is It Called A Grand Slam?

Initially, the term grand slam did not come from the tennis world at all. The phrase comes from a card game called the whist family card game, where it was possible to win with all the "tricks." The term was later used in bridge, another popular card game across Britain and the US that saw its rise in the late 1920s. In the context of other sports, it was first used by Alan Gould, who was a sports journalist that used the phrase "grand slam" to refer to a situation when Bobby Jones, an American golfer, won all major championship events. In the world of tennis, John Kieran, a journalist from the New York Times, was the first to use the term "grand slam."  

Australian Open

This Grand Slam marks the start of the tennis season, although the season officially begins a few weeks earlier. The tournament takes place in Melbourne, Australia, from 1905, and the prize money is estimated at $48,670,500. It takes place during the summer season in Australia, so the players have to be well prepared to survive the harsh conditions on the court.

Rod Laver arena during Australian Open 2016. Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com.
Rod Laver arena during Australian Open 2016. Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com.

The court has a "hard" type of surface, made out of blue Plexicushion (which is an acrylic-based surface). The Serbian former number one, Novak Đoković, has the most wins in the men's competition, seven in the singles. On the ladies side, that record is held by the Australian player, Margaret Cook, who has won the Australian Open singles competition for eleven times. 

Roland Garros

Also known as the French Open, this tournament usually starts at the end of May. The players are competing in both male and female brackets since 1891, for the prize money of $47,339,418. The whole event takes place in Paris, on a clay type of courts. In the men's competition, the absolute record holder there is the Spanish tennis superstar, Rafael Nadal, who took the win twelve times. Chris Evert dominated the female side of the Roland Garros, claiming the title seven times.  

Wimbledon

The oldest of the four major tournaments, this Grand Slam has been played at the All England Club in London from 1877. The prize money in Wimbledon is somewhere around $44,348,240, and the players compete in courts that have a grass type of surface.

The Wimbledon championship flag at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during US Open 2013. Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com
The Wimbledon championship flag at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during US Open 2013. Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

The audience, famously, can enjoy strawberries, whipped cream, and champagne, bringing the exclusivity of the tournament to another level. Most titles in the singles competition there were claimed by the Swiss tennis machine, Roger Feder, who took away nine titles. However, the record holder in Wimbledon in Martina Navratilova, who raised the trophy nine times in the female competition. 

US Open

Just four years younger than Wimbledon, US Open tournament usually starts at the end of August each year. Since 1881, the type of surface players competed on changed, finally setting on hard court, with a concrete base and acrylic cover on top. The US Open is the wealthiest of the four majors, bringing $57,000,000 to the prize pool. The record holders in the male part of the tournament are three Americans - Richard Sears, William Larned, and Bill Tilden, all claiming seven titles. There is only one queen in the female competition, where Molla Mallory, a Norwegian born player that represented the US, won eight times. 

Who was the first to use the term Grand Slam in the context of sports?

It was first used by Alan Gould, who was a sports journalist that used the phrase "grand slam" to refer to a situation when Bobby Jones, an American golfer, won all major championship events.

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