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So what exactly is 
the 'Grand Slam'?

  The expression 'Grand Slam' dates back to 1938. This was the year when one of the all time greats decided to try to win all of the four international tournaments of the day i.e. the Australian, the French, the British and the US Championships.  He was a large man with long auburn hair and his name was Donald Budge. Donald had won at both Wimbledon and his own US Championship Forest Hills the year before.  He was quoted as saying at the time… "In the history of the game, nobody has ever won all four big tournaments in the same year. Tilden, Borotta, Cochet, Lacoste, Perry…nobody.  That's why I have set myself this objective for the season. I certainly got off to a good start by not losing a single set in Australia!"
Donald indeed went on to win all four tournaments in 1938 and relatively easily. He also went on to help his country win the Davis Cup! As a result, the American journalist Allison Danzig created the expression the "Grand Slam" in his honour as a statement that he hadn't left anything for anybody else to win!! Donald didn't lose one official match that season.

When Donald Budge thought of winning these four tournaments they represented the only four countries to have won the prestigious Davis Cup at that time. The five champions he mentioned had all been great players in their day and had always played strongly for their respective countries in the Davis Cup. It was at the beginning of the last century and international travel was not widespread like it is today. Players were only starting to compete as individuals in the national championships of other countries through their travels to compete in the Davis Cup. The change in venue of the Cup between American, Australia, Great Britain and later on France, helped to see the status of these four national tournaments grow to what they remain today… "GRAND".

Tennis historians typically cite the origins of the Grand Slam as 1925. This was when the French championship was "internationalised" and joined the other three championships in allowing top foreign nationals to enter. Hence, in the strictest sense of the term as given to it by the journalist Danzig in 1938, the Grand Slam was not possible prior to this time since only three of the four tournaments had been open to everybody. There were other opportunities to achieve the equivalent but travel was prohibitive. The voyage by boat to Australia from Europe or America took three weeks in those days. Few people undertook such adventures unless they were either to play in the Davis Cup or confident of being able to win the championship of those countries! 

Before 1925, players who won both the world championship on grass (i.e. Wimbledon) and on clay (at Paris until 1923) as well as going on to win the Davis Cup with their national team, have passed into history as all time greats in much the same light as Donald Budge. The Olympic Games of 1896 to 1924, which then included tennis, were another occasion for players to achieve international recognition. Finally, one should not forget the women who, just like the men, have very much played their own part in the development of the great game of tennis.

So, if you're still interested we can go on to tell you more of the detail to the myths and legends of :

The Grand Slam








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Dernière mise à jour : 5 Avril 2000.
Copyright BLANCHE NET communications.
Mars 2000.