In tennis, someone who has won the Australian Open, French Open, U.S. Open, and Wimbledon in the same calendar year has made which achievement?
And the answer: Grand Slam.
Since 1938, there have only been six individual Grand Slam Champions. However, 18 men and women have won what's known as a "Career Grand Slam," winning the four tournaments not all in one year, but over their entire careers.
To win a Grand Slam title, the requirements are intense. A common misuse of the title designates a player who has won any of the four major tournaments in a given year, however, a true Grand Slam winner must compete in all four tournaments that span an exhausting eight-month period (and then win each tournament on top of that!). One of the most daunting tasks for even the best tennis players is maintaining enough stamina, energy, and drive to compete at such a high level for nearly an entire year.
The four Grand Slam tournaments are also called The Majors. These games are acclaimed internationally for their world ranking points, tradition, and prize-money, as well as their high levels of public and media attention. Out of the four, Wimbledon was the first to be founded, and in fact clocks in as the oldest tennis tournament in the world. The first game was played in 1877, and is considered to be the most prestigious of the bunch today.
Interestingly, the year 1968 marks the beginning of the "open era" in professional tennis. The open era, which persists into the current day, marks a turning point in tennis history – it began when Grand Slam tournaments agreed to allow professional players to compete with amateurs, ending the division that had persisted since the dawn of the sport in the 19th century. The French Open was the first “Grand Slam” event to go open.
Learn more about the history of tennis and its tournaments here.