The History Behind The Grand Slam Tournaments in Tennis

If you are a big tennis fan, and since you are reading this, we assume that you are, then you probably know about tennis’s Grand Slam – or the four major tournaments that offer the most prestige, the most attention, and the most money, among other benefits.

A Little History About the Grand Slam

For example, you know that it is made up of the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open, in that order. And you also might know that there are many different types of Grand Slams.

• Grand Slam – occurs when you win all four majors in one calendar year.
• Non-Calendar Year Grand Slam – occurs when you win all four majors in a row, but spanning two years (e.g., you win at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2005, then the Australian and French Opens in 2006.)
• Career Grand Slam – you win each of the four majors at least once in the span of your career.
• Golden Slam – you win all four majors plus the gold at the Summer Olympics in a year.
• Super Slam – you win all four majors plus the Year-End Championship.
• Boxed Set Grand Slam – you get a Grand Slam in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles in one calendar year. This has never been done.
• Career Boxed Set – you get a Grand Slam in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles throughout the course of your career. This has been done by three female players.

Only 17 players have ever won a true Grand Slam.

4 Majors of Tennis that Make up the Grand Slam

Now that you have gotten a refresher on that, here is a little bit of information on the four Majors.

Australian Open

The Australian Open was first held in 1905 in Melbourne, and Rodney Heath won it. Since then, it has been held annually in January. The first women’s event was in 1922 and was won by Mall Molesworth. The longest women’s match in Grand Slam history was held in this tournament when, in 2011, Francesca Schiavone fought it out with Svetlana Kuznetsova for four hours before finally winning the match.

The longest match ever in the Australian Open came the following year, 2012, between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. They played back and forth for almost six hours (five hours and 53 minutes to be exact) before Djokovic finally emerged the victor.

This tournament used to be played on a grass surface, but since 1988 it has been played on a hard surface.

French Open

The French Open began in 1891 in Paris. However, at the time, it was a national tournament. It did not open itself up to international play until 1925. It is held annually in late May to early June on its famous red clay surface, and it is the only one of the four Majors that uses clay for its surface.

Because of the difference in surfaces, many players find this tournament to be more difficult than the others, and so it could act as a deterrent to reaching Grand Slam status.

The French Open was the first of the championship tournaments to allow amateurs and pros to intermix or, as it is called, to go open. It was also the first championship to offer equal prize money to the male and female champions – which did not occur until 2007.


Out of all of the Grand Slam tournaments, Wimbledon is probably the most well-known and possibly the most highly respected. The tournament, which is held, as the name suggests, in Wimbledon in England, began in 1877 and is one of the oldest ongoing sporting events in the world. It is still being held in the same place where it originated, the All England Club.

The tournament lasts around two weeks. It starts near the end of June and runs through early July.

The tournament is held on a traditional grass surface, and it is the only one of the four Majors to still do so. In fact, a lot of Wimbledon is conducted in its traditional methods. The rules for the first tournament that were created for a Lawn Tennis Championship are very similar, though not exact, to the rules that are being used today.

Spencer Gore has the distinction of being the first ever Wimbledon winner. At the time, the tournament only hosted a gentlemen’s singles. The Ladies’ singles and the Gentlemen’s doubles were not added on until 1884. Mixed doubles and Ladies’ doubles were not added until 1913.

Before 1922, it was really easy to win consecutive titles because the previous year’s winner got a bye and only had to play in the finals.

US Open

The US Open is the tournament that is played latest in the year. It goes from August to September. The tournament began in 1881 with just men’s singles and doubles. It added women’s singles in 1887, followed by women’s and mixed doubles in 1889. It is played on a hard surface like the Australian Open, though it has been held on grass and clay surfaces in the past.

Though the tournament is now played in Queens, it actually started in Rhode Island, with Richard Sears winning. It is the only one of the four Grand Slam qualifying tournaments to have occurred every year without fail since it first started.

What You Need to Know Next

Now obviously, this was just a very brief history of these illustrious tournaments, but there is still a lot out there for you to learn. However, hopefully you now know more than you did when you started reading. The next thing you might want to learn is how to improve your own skills. That’s easy. Just practice all the time, play as much as you can, and, if you can afford it, get lessons. You can even attend tennis camp during the summer.

Now that you know a little about the history of the Grand Slam of tennis, you are ready to go add to it. Work hard, practice a lot, and one day, maybe you can be part of this Grand Slam history.