The growth of tennis since the 1930’s has seen the sport go from one dominated by amateurs to the Open Era that began in 1968. Tennis has changed arguably more than any other sport. The equipment and surface that tennis is played on has evolved more than other sport. As with other sports, more countries have players on both tours that ever before, and the prize money in the Grand Slams is beginning to become equitable.
Tennis is probably the only sport that has a near-equal footing with both women and men. Since the Martina-Chrissy rivalry in the 1980’s, the WTA has garnered plenty of interest on its own. Tennis players legacies are judged on the amount of Grand Slam titles a player wins.
The term was first used by New York Times writer John Kieran in 1933 when Australian Jack Crawford was attempting to become the first player to win the Grand Slam. Kieran wrote, ''If Crawford wins, that would be something like scoring a grand slam on the courts, doubled and vulnerable.”
His run was ended by England’s Fred Perry. Perry became the first player to capture the career slam in 1935, and Don Budge was the first player to win all four slams in the same year in 1938. They were among the first two players to dominate tennis.
Judging the most dominant player by decade among the men is more difficult prior to the open era. Many of the men played on the pro tour. They also had their own version of the Grand Slam, and Perry would later win the Pro Slam.
Starting with the coronation of the term Grand Slam, here is a look at the best players by decade beginning in the 1930’s.