Four tennis tournaments are more valuable than all others. Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open are called Grand Slams tournaments.
All four Grand Slams offer more ranking points, more prize money, and more fame and public attention. Read more for all details you need to know to become an absolute grand slam tennis expert.
What Grand Slam means?
Initially, the term “Grand Slam” was used for the winner of all four tournaments in one calendar year.
Currently, Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open are called and known as Grand Slam tournaments.
Who is the organizer?
ATP or WTA does not organize Grand Slam tournaments. Instead, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) holds the right to the events. It delegates the organization to Australian, French, British, and United States Tennis Associations.
Though, ATP and WTA recognize the tournaments and award ranking points to players participating at Grand Slams.
Where and when are Grand Slams Tournaments organized?
Australian Open is played in Melbourne, Australia, usually in the second half of January. The year 2021 was an exception, and the tournament was played in February. Australian Open is played on hard courts in Melbourne Park.
French Open is played in Paris, France usually starting in the third or fourth week of May. The year 2020 was an exception and the tournament was played in October. French Open is played on Roland Garros clay courts.
Wimbledon is played in London, England (Wimbledon is a city district of London) usually on the break of June and July. Wimbledon is played on grass courts in Wimbledon Tennis Club.
US Open is played in New York, the USA usually at the end of August or in the first half of September. US Open is played on hard courts at Flushing Meadows.
For an actual schedule of tournaments click here.
How many players participate in Grand Slams?
Men and Ladies’ main singles draw consists of 128 players.
There is also qualification played usually a week before the start of main tournaments. There are usually 128 players in the qualification draw with 16 players (winners of qualification) getting access to the main draw.
Prize money and Points
Grand Slam tournaments have the highest prize money from all tennis tournaments.
The prize money pool for Australian Open 2021 was A$32.8 million, for French Open 2020 was $45 million, Wimbledon 2019 prize money pool was $49 million and US Open 2020 had a prize money pool as high as $53.4 million.
The next tournament offering the most money is the Miami Open with a prize money pool of around $10 million. The usual ATP 250 level tournament has prize money of just about $400 000 and WTA 250 tournament just $200 000.
The player who qualifies for the main draw and loses in the 1st round of the Grand Slam gets more money than the ATP 250 or WTA 250 tournament winner.
Grand Slam tournaments are also generous in terms of ranking points. ATP and WTA award ranking points for Grand Slam tournaments even with the ITF as the organizer.
The winner of the Grand Slam tournament gets 2 000 points, which is twice as he can get for winning the ATP or WTA 1000 tournament.
For a full split of points awarded to Grand Slam tournament players go to our article: ATP and WTA Points and Ranking Explained.
What is so special about the Grand Slam tournaments?
We already mentioned the prize money and points that are awarded to participants of Grand Slams.
On top of that, Grand Slam tournaments are played for full two weeks (three with qualifications) comparing to the usual six to seven days schedule of regular ATP and WTA tournaments.
To win Grand Slam you need to play and win seven matches compared to the usual six to four matches at other tournaments.
Men singles are played as best of five sets instead of standard best of three sets.
Grand Slams are played on the same dates and the same location by ladies and men and that offers a unique opportunity to see top tennis players of both genders at one place and at one time.
Who won most Grand Slam tournaments?
Top Ten Men Grand Slam Tournament Winners:
Rafael Nadal (active), Novak Djokovic (active) 22
Roger Federer (active) 20
Pete Sampras 14
Roy Emerson 12
Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg 11
Bill Tiden 10
Fred Perry, Ken Rosewall, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi 8
Top Ten Ladies Grand Slam Tournament Winners:
Margaret Court 24
Serena Williams (active) 23
Steffi Graf 22
Helen Wills Moody 19
Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova 18
Billie Jean King 12
Maureen Connolly, Monica Seles 9
Suzane Lenglen, Mora Bjursted Mallory 8
More about the road from the 1st Grand Slam Wins to 20th Grand Slam Wins can be found here.
Players who won all four Grand Slams – Career Grand Slam
There are not many players who won all four Grand Slam tournaments. The list is very short and just 18 players can say “I have Career Grand Slam”.
Men (8): Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic
Ladies (10): Maureen Connolly, Doris Hart, Shirley Fry, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova
Calendar Grand Slam
Calendar Grand Slam means that the player won all four Grand Slams in one year. There are just five tennis players who win the calendar grand slam.
Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962, 1969) are the only two men that achieved this goal, with Rod Laver winning the calendar Grand Slam twice.
Maureen Connolly (1953), Margaret Court (1970), and Steffi Graf (1988) are the only three ladies that achieved calendar Grand Slam
Non-calendar Grand Slam
Non-calendar Grand Slam means that the player won four consecutive Grand Slam tournaments. Just four players were able to reach the non-calendar Grand Slam. And one of them (Serena Williams) did it two times.
Novak Djokovic [Wimbledon 2015 – US Open 2015 – Australian Open 2016 – French Open 2016]
Martina Navratilova [Wimbledon 1983 – US Open 1983 – French Open 1984 – US Open 1984]*
Steffi Graf [French Open 1993 – Wimbledon 1993 – US Open 1993 – Australian Open 1994]
Serena Williams [French Open 2002 – Wimbledon 2002 – US Open 2002 – Australian Open 2003] & [US Open 2014 – Australian Open 2015 – French Open 2015 – Wimbledon 2015]
*Australian Open 1984 was played in December 1984 after US Open 1984.
Which Grand Slam tournament is the best?
It is almost impossible to say.
Australian Open usually starts the season, and all players are well rested and eager to play. The atmosphere is warm and welcome.
French Open is the only clay Grand Slam with long matches taking four and more hours.
Wimbledon is the only grass Grand Slam with an atmosphere of strawberry, cream, and champagne.
US Open as the last Grand Slam of the season gives players the last chance to finish the season on a high note.
My personal order is 1. Australian Open, 2. Wimbledon, 3. French Open, 4. US Open. And what is yours?