The Grand Slam tournaments, also called majors, are the four most important annual tennis events. They offer the most ranking points, prize money, public and media attention, the greatest strength and size of field, and greater number of "best of" sets for men, which is 5. The Grand Slam itinerary consists of the Australian Open in mid January, the French Open around late May through early June, Wimbledon in June–July, and the US Open in August–September. Each tournament is played over a two-week period. The Australian and United States tournaments are played on hard courts, the French on clay, and Wimbledon on grass. Wimbledon is the oldest, founded in 1877, followed by the US in 1881, the French in 1891, and the Australian in 1905. However, of these four, only Wimbledon was a major before 1924–25, when all four became designated Grand Slam tournaments. Skipping majors—especially the Australian Open because of the remoteness, the inconvenient dates (around Christmas and New Year's Day) and the low prize money—was not unusual before 1982.
Grand Slam tournaments are not operated by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) or the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), but by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). However, the ATP and WTA do award ranking points based on a player's performance at a major.
The term Grand Slam, without qualification, and also originally, refers to the achievement of winning all four major championships within a single calendar year within one of the five events: men's and women's singles; men's and women's doubles, and mixed doubles. In doubles, one team may accomplish a Grand Slam playing together or one player may achieve it with different partners.
Winning the four majors in consecutive tournaments but not in the same year is known as a Non-Calendar Year Grand Slam, while winning all four majors at any point during the course of a career is known as a Career Grand Slam. Winning the gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games in addition to the four majors in one calendar year is known as a "Golden Grand Slam" or more commonly the "Golden Slam". Also, winning the Year-End Championship (known as ATP Finals for men's singles and doubles disciplines, and WTA Finals for both women's disciplines) in the same period is known as a "Super Slam". Together, all four majors in all three disciplines (singles, doubles, and mixed doubles) are called a "boxed set" of Grand Slam titles. No male or female player has won all twelve events in one calendar year, although a "career boxed set" has been achieved by three female players.
Origin of the term "Grand Slam"
The term slam for winning all of the tricks in the whist family card games (see also whist terms) is attested from early in the 17th century. Grand slam for all of the tricks, in contrast to small slam or little slam for all but one, dates from early in the 19th century. This use was inherited by contract bridge, a modern development of whist defined in 1925 that became very popular in Britain and America by 1930.
Tennis has a long history of adopting golf custom and Grand slam appears to have entered tennis not directly from card sport but via golf as it was used since 1930, when Bobby Jones won the four major championships, two British and two American tournaments. Although John F. Kieran of The New York Times is widely credited with first applying the term "grand slam" to tennis to describe the winning of all four major tennis tournaments in a calendar year, sports columnist Alan Gould had used the term in that connection almost two months before Kieran.
The possibility of being the reigning champion of all the current four majors did not exist until 1924–25, when the International Lawn Tennis Federation designated the Australasian, French (before 1925 only open to members of French tennis clubs), British and American championship tournaments as the four majors. Before that time only three events: Wimbledon, the World Hard Court Championships (held in Paris & once in Brussels) and the World Covered Court Championships (held in various locations) were considered the premier international tennis events by the ILTF. Tony Wilding of New Zealand won all three of those earlier majors in one year: 1913. It has been possible to complete a Grand Slam in most years and most disciplines since 1925. It was not possible from 1940 to 1945 because of interruptions at Wimbledon, the Australian and French opens due to the Second World War, the years from 1970 to 1985 when there was no Australian tournament in mixed doubles, and 1986 when there was no Australian Open at all.
Phil Dent has pointed out that skipping majors—especially the Australian Open—was not unusual then, before counting major titles became the norm. Thus, many players had never played the Austral(as)ian amateur or open championships: the Doherty brothers, William Larned, Maurice McLoughlin, Beals Wright, Bill Johnston, Bill Tilden, René Lacoste, Henri Cochet, Bobby Riggs, Jack Kramer, Ted Schroeder, Pancho Gonzales, Budge Patty, Manuel Santana, Jan Kodeš and others, while Brookes, Ellsworth Vines, Jaroslav Drobný, Manuel Orantes, Ilie Năstase (at 35 years old) and Björn Borg came just once. Beginning in 1969, when the first Australian Open was held on the Milton Courts at Brisbane, the tournament was open to all players, including professionals, who at that point were prohibited from playing the traditional circuit. Nevertheless, except for the 1969 and 1971 tournaments, many of the best players missed this championship until 1982, because of the remoteness, the inconvenient dates (around Christmas and New Year's Day) and the low prize money. In 1970, George MacCall's National Tennis League, which employed Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Andrés Gimeno, Pancho Gonzales, Roy Emerson and Fred Stolle, prevented its players from entering the tournament because the guarantees were insufficient. The tournament was won by Arthur Ashe.
In terms of the current four majors, the first to win all four in a single year was Don Budge, who completed the feat in 1938. To date, 17 players have completed a Grand Slam, though only six in the most prestigious singles titles. Of these players, three have won multiple majors: Rod Laver accomplished the feat twice in men's singles; Margaret Court accomplished the feat three times, in two different disciplines – once in women's singles and twice in mixed doubles; and Esther Vergeer completed a grand slam twice in Women's wheelchair doubles.
The four Junior disciplines, boys' and girls' singles and doubles, provide limited opportunities to achieve a Grand Slam. Players are only eligible from age 13 to 18, with 18-year-olds likely to hold a physical advantage. Only Stefan Edberg has completed the Grand Slam in a Junior discipline.
Grand Slam tournament champions
Grand Slam completion
Non-calendar year Grand Slam
In 1982, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) began offering a $1 million bonus to any singles player to win four consecutive major titles, no matter the time of completion. Although groups variously identified as the Men's International Professional Tennis Council, "abetted primarily by some British tennis writers", and "European tennis journalists" had advocated for the ITF to change the definition of "Grand Slam", ITF General Secretary David Gray made it clear that this was not going to happen. In a 1983 letter to tennis journalist Paul Fein, Gray clarified:
The ITF's plan was to offer the cash bonus for three years, apparently to encourage players to compete in all four major tournaments as much as to reward success at them.
Even before the ITF had announced their bonus, the Grand Slam controversy had taken on a life of its own. Writing in 1982, Neil Amdur claimed, "Now the sport spins nervously under the influence of big dollars and even bigger egos, and tradition has almost gone the way of white balls and long flannels [...] If the four major tournaments want to offer a $1 million incentive for any player in the future who can sweep their titles—and such talks have been rumored—that bonus would be a welcome addition. But changing what the Grand Slam is all about is like a baseball player believing that he 'hit for the cycle' after slugging a single, double and triple in the first game of a doubleheader and a home run in his first time at bat in the second game." Despite seeming clarity from the ITF, some journalists suggested that the sport's organizing body had turned its back on history and changed the "rules" of tennis by redefining a Grand Slam. Such confusion continued for years. For instance, when Steffi Graf completed the Grand Slam in 1988, George Vecsey wrote, "Even the International Tennis Federation, which should have more respect for history, ruled in 1982 that winning any four straight majors constituted a Grand Slam—and offered a $1 million bonus for it [...] But many tennis people, and most writers, and probably most fans, too, did not accept the new rules, and the I.T.F. has dropped the gimmick." Vecsey was only half right: the ITF dropped the "gimmick" of the cash bonus, but it had never changed any rules.
However, the ambiguous way the ITF described the Grand Slam in their Constitution led to journalists continuing to make the same assumption as Vecsey over two decades later. For instance, when Rafael Nadal was on the verge of completing a non-calendar year Grand Slam at the 2011 Australian Open, one writer observed, "Most traditionalists insist that the 'Grand Slam' should refer only to winning all four titles in a calendar year, although the constitution of the International Tennis Federation, the sports governing body, spells out that 'players who hold all four of these titles at the same time achieve the Grand Slam'." This was true until later in 2011, when the ITF edited the description to eliminate all confusion. As it now stands, "The Grand Slam titles are the championships of Australia, France, the United States of America and Wimbledon. Players who hold all four of these titles in one calendar year achieve the 'Grand Slam'."
When Martina Navratilova won the 1984 French Open and became the reigning champion of all four women's singles events, she was the first player to receive the bonus prize in recognition of her achievement. Some media outlets did, indeed, say that she had won a Grand Slam. Others simply noted the ongoing controversy: "Whether the Slam was Grand or Bland or a commercial sham tainted with an asterisk the size of a tennis ball, Martina Navratilova finally did it." Although the ITF recognizes what is now unofficially known as the "non-calendar year Grand Slam" on its Roll of Honour, no subsequent player to win four or more majors in a row—Steffi Graf, Serena Williams, or Novak Djokovic—has received bonus prize money.
Combining the Grand Slam and non-calendar year Grand Slam, the total number of times that players achieved the feat (of being the reigning champion in all four majors) expands to 18.
Three women have won four or more consecutive major titles since 1970, with Navratilova taking six in a row in 1983–1984. On the men's side, Novak Djokovic was the first singles player since Rod Laver to hold all four major titles at once, which he accomplished between Wimbledon 2015 and the 2016 French Open. Prior to the Open Era, Don Budge received the same accolades in winning the French Championships in 1938, but then completed the more prestigious Grand Slam at the 1938 US Championships, giving him six majors in a row, the only male to ever win more than four consecutive major tournaments.
The Bryan brothers (Bob and Mike) were the last to achieve a non-calendar year Grand Slam in men's doubles. Several players and teams came up one title short. Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, known collectively as The Woodies, reached the final of the 1997 French Open while holding all the other three titles, but lost to Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Daniel Vacek. In singles, Pete Sampras lost the 1994 French Open quarterfinal to fellow countryman Jim Courier, having won the previous three majors. Roger Federer in 2006 and 2007, and Novak Djokovic in 2012 repeated this, both ultimately losing the French Open final to Rafael Nadal. Nadal himself was prevented from achieving this feat by his countryman David Ferrer, who defeated him in the quarterfinal of the 2011 Australian Open, which Nadal entered holding the other three major titles. In women's singles, Monica Seles lost the 1992 Wimbledon final to Steffi Graf, having won the previous three majors. Martina Hingis had a chance to achieve the feat in the 1998, but lost to Seles in the French Open semifinal. In women's doubles, Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suárez had won three majors from US Open 2003 to the 2004 French Open, lost at the semifinals to Cara Black and Rennae Stubbs in the 2004 Wimbledon, and Sania Mirza together with Hingis had won from Wimbledon 2015 to the 2016 Australian Open, but lost in the third round of the 2016 French Open to Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková. In 2017, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Šafářová had the chance to win four consecutive titles at Wimbledon, but withdrew from their scheduled second round match following an acute knee injury suffered by Mattek-Sands in the second round of the Ladies' Singles competition.
The following list is for those players who achieved a non-calendar Grand Slam by winning four or more consecutive titles, but who failed to win the Grand Slam during the same streak.
Career Grand Slam
The career achievement of all four major championships in one format is termed a Career Grand Slam in that format. Dozens of players have accomplished that (column two) and 17 have doubled it: won a second championship in each of the four majors in one format (column three). Two or more career championships in all four majors is sometimes called a "Multiple Slam Set". Three players have Multiple Slam Sets in two formats, one in three formats, so 22 players are counted in the table (column three). Their achievements are tabulated below.
Eight men and ten women have won Career Grand Slams in singles play (rows one and two); among them two men and five women have at least two Career Grand Slams in singles (column three). Since the beginning of the open era, five men (Rod Laver, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic) and six women (Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova) have achieved this.
Several singles players have won three major championships without achieving the Career Grand Slam, grouped by the missing Grand Slam tournament:
- Australian Open: René Lacoste, Henri Cochet, Helen Wills, Althea Gibson, Tony Trabert, Margaret Osborne duPont and Manuel Santana
- French Open: Frank Sedgman, Ashley Cooper, Louise Brough Clapp, Virginia Wade, Arthur Ashe, Pete Sampras, John Newcombe, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport and Angelique Kerber
- Wimbledon: Ken Rosewall, Hana Mandlíková, Ivan Lendl, Monica Seles, Guillermo Vilas, Mats Wilander, Justine Henin and Stan Wawrinka
- US Open: Jean Borotra, Jack Crawford, Lew Hoad, Angela Mortimer and Evonne Goolagong Cawley
Several doubles players have won three major championships without achieving the Career Grand Slam, grouped by the missing Grand Slam tournament:
- Australian Open: John Van Ryn, Helen Wills, Elizabeth Ryan, Margaret Osborne duPont, Darlene Hard, Billie Jean King, Betty Stöve, Robert Seguso, Mahesh Bhupathi, Lindsay Davenport, Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.
- French Open: John Bromwich, Nancy Richey, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, Cara Black and Sania Mirza
- Wimbledon: Vic Seixas, Ashley Cooper, Virginia Wade, Virginia Ruano Pascual, Paola Suárez, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Lucie Šafářová and Samantha Stosur
- US Open: Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, Jack Crawford, Althea Gibson and Rod Laver
Only six players have completed a Career Grand Slam in both singles and doubles: one male (Roy Emerson) and five female (Margaret Court, Doris Hart, Shirley Fry Irvin, Martina Navratilova, and Serena Williams). Court, Hart and Navratilova are the only three players to have completed a "Career Boxed Set", winning all four titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles; this has never been done by a male player.
The remainder of this section is a complete list, by format, of all players who have won the Career Grand Slam. Players are ordered chronologically by their completion of the Career Grand Slam. The major tournament at which the Career Grand Slam was achieved is indicated in bold.
Eight men have won all four major tournaments. Two among them (Rod Laver and Roy Emerson) also achieved a double career Slam. Originally, the Grand Slam tournaments were held on grass (Australian, Wimbledon, and US Open) and clay (French) and the first four players achieved their Career Grand Slams on two surfaces. The US Open changed its surface from grass to clay in 1975 and then to hard court in 1978. The Australian Open changed from grass to hard court in 1988. The last four players (Agassi, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic) achieved their career grand slam on three different surfaces: hard court, clay, and grass.
Each woman's "first wins" in the four majors are listed chronologically and their ages upon completion of the Career Grand Slam are given in brackets. Five women (Court, Evert, Navratilova, Graf, Williams) achieved at least two Career Grand Slams, three women (Court, Graf, Williams) have achieved three Career Grand Slams and Steffi Graf is the only player to achieve four Career Grand Slams.
In Men's Doubles, 24 players have won the Career Grand Slam, including sixteen who achieved the Career Grand Slam with a unique partner. Eight of the 24 men achieved at least a double Career Grand Slam at Men's Doubles, led by Roy Emerson and John Newcombe with triple Slams.
At Women's Doubles, 21 players have won the career Slam, including ten who achieved the Career Grand Slam with a unique partner. Nine of the 21 achieved at least a double Career Grand Slam at Women's Doubles, led by Martina Navratilova with seven or more titles in each major.
At Mixed Doubles, a total of 17 players have won the career Slam, including seven who won all four events with the same partner — an odd number because Margaret Court accomplished a career Grand Slam separately with Ken Fletcher and Marty Riessen. The two other teams which won all four events are Doris Hart with Frank Sedgman, and Martina Hingis with Leander Paes. Four of the 17 players have accomplished multiple career Grand Slams in mixed doubles, led by Margaret Court's quadruple Slam.
Most consecutive Grand Slam tournament titles
Until 2019, there were no wheelchair quad draws on both French Open and Wimbledon.
Until 2019, there were no wheelchair quad draws on both French Open and Wimbledon.
Most consecutive Grand Slam singles finals
Helen Wills Moody won all 16 of the Grand Slam singles tournaments she played beginning with the 1924 U.S. Championships and extending to the 1933 Wimbledon Championships (not counting her defaults in the 1926 French and Wimbledon Championships). During this period, she won 6 Wimbledons, 4 French Championships, and 6 U.S. Championships. She also won the 1924 Summer Olympics during this period. Moody never entered the Australian Championships.
Doris Hart won all 13 of the Grand Slam mixed doubles tournaments she played beginning with the 1951 French Championships and extending to the 1955 U.S. Championships. During this period, she won 5 Wimbledons, 3 French Championships, and 5 U.S. Championships.
Tennis was an Olympic sport from the inaugural 1896 Summer Olympics through the 1924 Games, then was dropped for the next 64 years (except as a demonstration sport in 1968 and 1984) before returning in 1988. As there were only three major championships designated by the International Lawn Tennis Federation before 1925, none of the tennis players who participated in the Olympics between 1896 and 1924 had a chance to complete a Golden Grand Slam. However, there was a possibility to complete a Career Golden Grand Slam by winning the 1920 Olympics or 1924 Olympics plus each of the four grand slams, all of which were present from 1925 onwards. The term Golden Slam (initially "Golden Grand Slam") was coined in 1988.
Winning four consecutive Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic event in the period of twelve months, although not in the same year, is called a "Non-calendar year Golden Slam". Only Bob and Mike Bryan have achieved this by winning the 2012 Olympics, 2012 US Open, 2013 Australian Open, 2013 French Open and 2013 Wimbledon Championships. After they won the final at Wimbledon, this was coined the "Golden Bryan Slam".
A player who wins all four Grand Slam tournaments and the Olympic gold medal (or a Paralympic gold medal) during his or her career is said to have achieved a Career Golden Slam. The event at which the Career Golden Slam was achieved is indicated in bold.
Soon after the Open Era began in 1968, the new professional tours each held a year-end championship (YEC), which are elite tournaments involving only the top performers of the given season. The subsequent return of tennis to the Olympics in 1988 gave rise to the notion of a Super Slam as a combination of Golden Slam and YEC title. Eligible YECs are currently called the ATP Finals for men, WTA Finals for women, and the Wheelchair Tennis Masters.
No player has ever completed the Super Slam in a single season.
Only one player has completed the Super Slam in a period of twelve months:
- The event at which the Career Super Slam was achieved indicated in bold below:
Three major tournament titles in a year
Players who have won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments in the same year. Jack Crawford, Lew Hoad, Martina Navratilova and Serena Williams won the first three events, but lost the last grand slam tournament. Crawford, an asthmatic, won two of the first three sets of the 1933 U.S. Championships final against Fred Perry, then tired in the heat and lost the last two sets and the match. Until 2016, Wimbledon have never hosted singles tournament for wheelchairs. Notwithstanding year when the US Open did not take place due to date clashes with the Paralympics.
Note 1: From 1977 to 1985, the Australian Open was held in December as the last major of the calendar year. Note 2: Until 2016, Wimbledon have never hosted singles tournament for wheelchairs. Note 3: Notwithstanding year when the US Open wheelchair events did not take place due to date clashes with the Paralympics.
Four major tournament finals in a year
Players who have played in all four Grand Slam tournament finals in the same year.
The Triple Crown refers to concurrently winning the title in all three disciplines (singles, doubles and mixed doubles) at one tennis tournament. This has become an increasingly rare accomplishment in the sport. This is partly because the final match in all three disciplines often takes place concurrently in the same day if not in consecutive days. Doris Hart for example attained her first Triple Crown after playing three Wimbledon final matches held in one single day.
- This list excludes the 1909 triple crown of Jeanne Matthey and the 1920, 1921, 1922 and 1923 triple crown wins of Suzanne Lenglen. The French Championship tennis tournament at the time was a domestic competition not recognized as an international major. At the time the major clay court event (actual precursor of the French Open in its current international format) was the World Hard Court Championships, where Suzanne Lenglen also attained triple championship in 1921 and 1922.
- Also the 1941 triple championship of Alice Weiwers is not listed due to its disputed official status: French major championships held in Vichy France from 1941 to 1945 are currently not recognized by Fédération Française de Tennis.
Another Grand Slam-related accomplishment is winning a "boxed set" of Grand Slam titles – which is at least one of every possible type of major championship available to a player: the singles, doubles, and mixed doubles at all four Grand Slam events of the year. This has never been accomplished within a year or consecutively across two calendar years.
The Career Boxed Set refers to winning one of every possible grand slam title (singles, doubles, mixed) over the course of an entire career. No male player has completed this, although Frank Sedgman only missed out on the French Open singles title. Men who participate in top/elite level singles have played comparatively few doubles, and very few mixed doubles. So far, only three women have completed the boxed set during their careers:
- The event at which the boxed set was achieved indicated in bold below
Court is not only unique in having two boxed sets, but is also unique in the timing of her accomplishments. Her first boxed set was completed before the start of the open era, and she has a boxed set achieved solely within the open era:
Martina Hingis was the most recent player to be one title away from joining this elite group. She only needed the French Open singles, having reached the final in 1997 and 1999. Prior to Hingis, it was Billie Jean King who came close at completing a career boxed set. She only needed the Australian Open women's doubles title, having reached the final in 1965 and 1969.
No man has ever completed the career boxed set Grand Slam, with Frank Sedgman being the closest one of completing it. He only missed the French Open singles title, having reached the final in 1952.
Multiple Career Grand Slams
Of the many players who have managed to win a full set of four majors, there is a small number who have gone on to win all four majors a second or more times. The completion of "Multiple Career Grand Slams" or sometimes called "multiple slam sets" (MSS) has been achieved by only 22 unique players up to the end of the 2015 Wimbledon. MSS players can be found in each of the five tennis disciplines: men's or women's singles, men's or women's doubles, mixed doubles. It can also be found in women's wheelchair doubles. Of these, five players have completed MSS in more than one discipline: Roy Emerson, Martina Navratilova, Frank Sedgman and Serena Williams have MSS in two disciplines, Margaret Court has MSS in three disciplines.
By discipline (numbers of players and table entries)
- Men's Singles (2 people; 2 entries)
- Women's Singles (5 people; 9 entries)
- Men's Doubles (8 people; 10 entries)
- Women's Doubles (9 people; 17 entries)
- Mixed Doubles (4 people, 6 entries)
- Men's Wheelchair Doubles (2 people; 3 entries)
- Women's Wheelchair Doubles (3 people; 4 entries)
Before the Open Era began in 1968, only amateur players were allowed to compete in the four majors. Many male top players "went pro" in order to win prize money legally, competing on a professional world tour comprising completely different events. From 1927 through 1967, the three oldest pro events were considered "majors" of the pro tour: the U.S. Pro Tennis Championships, French Pro Championship and Wembley Championships. A player who won all three in a calendar year was considered to achieve a "Professional Grand Slam", or "Pro Slam". The feat was accomplished twice: