A Complete Overview to the Grand Slam
Tennis & Racquet Expert Russell Christensen dives into every tournament of the Grand Slam and shares tips on how to prepare for each of the four events.
When it comes to professional tennis on the Men’s and Women's tour, tournaments are the most important to a player. Each tournament rewards players with prize money, ranking points, and extra perks for first place (some tournaments give away cars), and there are many of them. On the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Tour alone, there are approximately 64 tournaments during the year—many of which vary by the amount of cash prize money and ranking points. Each professional player has to meticulously decide which tournaments to play. However, when it comes to absolutes, the Grand Slams are the pick of the bunch.
The Grand Slam tournaments give the most ranking points (2000 points if one wins the tournament, whereas others give out 1000, 500, or 250) and the highest prize money. The Grand Slams are considered one of the greatest accomplishments for tennis professionals. This past year, the US Open had a cash purse of $60 million dollars—of which the winners of the mens and womens received $2.6 million each. So you can imagine the incentive for players to compete in these Grand Slams.
There are four Grand Slams throughout the year: The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and The US Open. These are the best tournaments to go to if you are a tennis fan. Let's dive into each of them.
Anyone want to watch some tennis down under? The Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, is held at Melbourne Park in Melbourne. The tournament was started in 1905 as the Australian Championships. The type of court surface used at the Australian open is a type of hard court, in which the ball speed with the court is considered medium speed. When it comes to singles title wins at the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic and Margaret Court have the most, coming in at nine and 11 grand slam titles, respectively. The most iconic court at the Australian Open is the Rod Laver Arena, named after the Australian tennis great Rod Laver, seating around 15,000 people.
In my opinion, the Australian Open is probably the least popular of the four, but nonetheless an amazing place to watch high-quality tennis and see the beautiful country. Just be ready for that long airplane ride! In 2023, the tournament will start on the 16th and end the 29th of January.
The French Open—also called the Roland Garros—is held in Paris, France, and is, chronologically, the next Grand Slam after the Australian Open. The tournament began in the late 1800s, but it was originally exclusive to those who were part of the French tennis club in Paris. It opened internationally in 1925.
The most unique aspect about the French Open is its courts’ clay surfaces. These clay courts are considered pretty slow in comparison to hard courts, so clay comes with a different type of play style. Compared to the other Grand Slams, the longest rallies and the most drop shots will be seen during the French Open.
When it comes to most titles won, the king of the French Open is Rafael Nadal. He has won a record 14 times. I believe a lot of it has to do with the Babolat Pure Aero racquet he uses, since it is designed in France as well. No man in ATP Tour history has won that many Grand Slams in one specific tournament, with a match record of 112 wins and only three losses. I don’t expect anyone else to do that anytime soon. On the women’s side, the American Chris Evert—who used the iconic Pro Staff racquet— tallied up seven wins at the French Open in her era.
The French Open is definitely a unique experience, so grab some fresh croissants at a local bakery and go see some tennis! This year, the tournament begins May 22nd and will run through the middle of June.
When I think about Wimbledon, one word comes to mind: timeless. The tournament, set in London, England, at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, is the most iconic competition in the tennis world. It is also the oldest-running tournament—dating back to 1877.
Wimbledon is one of only a few tournaments that are still played on grass courts, which is considered a very fast surface, and requires a specific, all-white dress code. It gives you the feeling of being part of an exclusive club that lets you watch really good tennis. Not only is the tennis watching excellent, but the club is known for their delicious strawberries and cream.
Many tennis greats have aspired to win this prestigious tournament. Roger Federer currently holds the most men’s Wimbledon titles, with eight. Martina Navratilova holds the record on the women’s side with nine titles. Wimbledon starts roughly two weeks after the French Open. In 2023, the tournament starts on July third and ends around the 16th.
The last of the four Grand Slams takes place in the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows in New York City. It is one of the only grand slams that does late matches—some ending around two or three in the morning!
The US Open is played on a hard court, like the Australian Open, and dates back to 1887. It is often a big hot spot for many fans and celebrities. The tournament is run by the United States Tennis Association (USTA), which has been a big advocate to promote high pay and equal rights. It's one of the first tennis tournaments to give equal gender pay to men’s and women’s winners.
Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, and Jimmy Conners hold the record for most titles, sporting five a piece. On the women’s side, Chris Evert and Serena Williams hold the record of six titles. The tournament starts August 28th and lasts through September 10th; so if you are looking to have some night-time fun and watch some tennis, check out the US Open!
Tips for the Tournaments
When it comes to the Grand Slams, there is no better way to experience tennis. So here’s my best advice when it comes to having an awesome experience at the tournaments:
Hit Up the Practice Courts
I had the opportunity to have Roger Federer walk right past me simply because I went to the practice courts early. The practice courts provide opportunities to be as close as possible to these tennis players and get awesome pictures, whether watching them play or getting a photo with them.
If you want to save money, either bring snacks or items to use for getting signatures. A lot of these Grand Slams have plenty of food and novelty items, but they will be expensive. It can add up pretty quickly if you are going with a big family. The only thing worth getting for food would be the strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. It's just something you have to try—simply to say you tried it!
Pack the Essentials
Bring water, sunscreen, and a hat. Most of the time, you will be out in the sun. The Australian Open has had some pretty big heat waves that can float around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. From my experience, many people will buy a full-day pass but will end up leaving by two because they are exhausted from being in the sun all day if they’re not properly prepared.
Catch a Night Match
Lastly, make sure you go to a night match at the US Open! They usually have two matches with big name players, so expect a high-intensity match full of awesome points and drama.
Make the Trip
If you are a lover of tennis, then these four Grand Slams will bring spectating to its highest caliber. So prepare yourself, buy the airplane and tournament tickets, reach out to a Tennis Expert on Curated to find appropriate apparel (hats, shirts, balls) to bring for the tournament and get signatures, go with a friend, and watch one of the professionals raise the trophy.
Lastly, feel free to chat with a Tennis Expert like me to help give you more suggestions on what to do at the Grand Slams. We’ve had a lot of experience watching Grand Slams, and we can add more to your experience! I’ve never heard of a person saying they regret having gone to a Grand Slam. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a picture with one of the all-time greats!