Event Info / Grand Slams
The other majors
Along with the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, the French Open is one of the four historic tennis tournaments which make up the legendary Grand Slam. The term dates back to 1933, when Australian Jack Crawford managed to win the Australian Internationals, Roland Garros and Wimbledon. With the US Internationals fast approaching, New York Times journalist John Kieran wrote that if Crawford won this fourth title, "he would achieve on court the equivalent of a countered and vulnerable grand slam in bridge". Crawford lost in the final to Britain's Fred Perry, but the name was to go down in history.
Very few players have won the Grand Slam; Donald Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) are the only men to win all four tournaments in the same year, and Margaret Court (1970), Maureen Connolly (1953) and Steffi Graf (1988) the only women. The task is even more difficult nowadays with the four tournaments all being played on different surfaces: Plexicushion in Australia, clay at Roland Garros, grass at Wimbledon and Decoturf at the US Open.
Rafael Nadal is the most recent player to have won all four Majors, the Majorcan winning the last remaining title to elude him at the US Open in 2010. A year earlier, his main rival on the circuit Roger Federer had also rounded off his Grand Slam collection with victory at Roland Garros, ten years after Andre Agassi had achieved the same feat in Paris.
Here is brief summary of the French Open's three "cousins".
The first Australian Open was held in 1905 at the Warehouseman's Cricket Ground. The event was called the Australasian Championships until 1912, with Australia and New Zealand sharing the organisation. Women were only allowed to enter in 1922 and it was not until the late 1970s that the major overseas stars finally began to make the long trip down under to compete on a regular basis. Unsurprisingly therefore, almost all the winners prior to that date were Australian.
In 1972, the Australian Lawn Tennis Association decided to move the event every year. Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and also New Zealand all played host to the championships before the Open finally found a more stable home in Melbourne, originally in Kooyong in 1983, where it finally began to earn a worthy reputation for itself. It then moved again to Flinders Park in 1988, with the tournament held on hard Rebound Ace courts for the first time as opposed to grass. That was the year that it became the only Grand Slam tournament to have two courts with a sliding roof. The venue was renamed Melbourne Park in 1997 and since 2007 has been played on a new hard surface called Plexicushion.
The 2007 Australian Open was the first grand-slam tournament of 2007 to implement Hawk-Eye in challenges to line calls.
Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, having been staged for the first time in 1877 by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (who are still the organisers and proprietors of the courts today). The Ladies Singles was added in 1884, and until 1923, the tournament was known as the "World Grass Court Championships". The event has never left the London district which bears its name, although it did move from Worple Road to Church Road in 1922, which was also the year when the challenge round (a rule whereby the reigning champion automatically qualified for the final the following year) was dropped.
Wimbledon is widely recognized as being the most prestigious tournament of all and one which is steeped in tradition. Its dress code states that players must dress "predominantly in white", and up until 1972, the Championships did not accept professionals under contract. A boycott by the ATP ensued the following year, and in 1974 the tournament was finally open to all. In 2007, the Hawk-Eye electronic umpiring system was introduced to the main courts.
Roger Federer pulled level with Pete Sampras in 2012, as the most titled Wimbledon winner, with seven singles crowns. Four years prior to that, in 2008, Rafael Nadal overcame Federer in a titanic five-set final to become the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year, an achievement which Federer then matched the following year before Rafa managed another double in 2010.
The first US championships were held in Newport in August 1881, where they were staged every year until 1918 and included a challenge round until 1911. Only clubs that were members of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association were permitted to enter until 1970. The women's singles was first played in 1887 in Philadelphia, and it was not until 1919 that the men's and women's events were staged simultaneously at the Forest Hill West Side Tennis Club in New York. The tournament was played on grass until 1974, then on "Har-Tru" green clay from 1975 to 1977. The US Open, as it became in 1970 when the tournament was opened up to all players, was also the first major to adopt the tie-break, and is the only one to have it in the final set.
The tournament moved again, this time for good, in 1978, setting up home in Flushing Meadows in the Queens district of New York. Decoturf hard courts also replaced the clay.
The US Open is the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament of the year and can boast the largest centre court in the world: the Arthur Ashe Stadium, which was opened in 1997 and seats 23,000. In 1999, the previous centre court was renovated and renamed the Louis Armstrong Stadium.