"There's only one way to win the Grand Slam."
Bobby Jones and Rod Laver commiserate over the Grand Slam.
January 14, 2011
From the Desk of Bobby Jones
Re: The Grand Slam
I just wanted to write and say how sorry I am about you being subjected to all this talk about Rafael Nadal and the Grand Slam. You handled yourself quite well in that interview yesterday, but I know how frustrated you must be.
I felt the same way in April of 2001. Tiger had won the three previous majors, and the sports world was contemplating about whether his winning the Masters would constitute a Grand Slam. Isn’t that just like the talking heads to manufacture story angles? Tiger was the first to point out the lunacy of the argument, but the media wouldn’t let it go.
I think they settled on the "Tiger Slam", but whatever: I’m just happy I was 30 years too dead to be interviewed. I might not have been as humble as you. If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here for you.
With warm regards,
If Rafa wins the 2011 Australian Open, should it be considered a Grand Slam?
1930 Grand Slam Winner
January 14, 2011
From the Desk of George “Rod” Laver
Hey mate, it’s good to hear from you. I didn’t know Heaven had a postal service. Your letter arrived same-day delivery. Not as fast as email, but still pretty good.
Anyway, I’m going crazy down here. How many times do I have to say it: Capturing the Grand Slam means winning all four majors in the same year. How difficult is that to understand? If Nadal wins the 2011 Australian Open, he will be one-fourth of the way to the Grand Slam. Simple as that. Tennis isn’t mix-and-match clothes shopping. You don’t get to grab the French and Wimbledon one year and match them to the Australian and the U.S. Open the next. That’s called the “Career Grand Slam.”
Yeah, I remember that "Tiger Slam" nonsense. Same thing going on now with the "Rafa Slam." Look, if Rafa wins four in a row, I’ll be the first to shake the man’s hand. That would be an amazing accomplishment, considering he is competing against Roger Federer.
My problem is that surfacing the Grand Slam question has shed doubt on my own Grand Slam achievements. You know, that three of the tournaments were played on grass and that the competition wasn’t as good. First, I could have beaten Chuck McKinley in the parking lot. Second, you can only play against who you play against. Rod Laver or Pete Sampras or Roger Federer? Who can say for sure?
Okay, I’m finished, except for one final point: To his credit Nadal hasn’t suggested that winning this year’s Australian will earn him the Grand Slam. He obviously understands that while Adrian Peterson and Whoopi Goldberg look alike, and while Colin Montgomery and Madaleine Albright really look alike, and while Mel Kiper, Jr. and Joey Buttafuoco are probably identical twins separated at birth, these people are NOT the same people.
Hope things are good in heaven. Good golf courses there? Grass tennis courts?
1962 and 1969 Grand Slam Winner
To read more correspondence between sports personalities, visit the SportsLetters blog.