Grand Slam Champion vs. Major Champion: Why Tennis Experts Are Wrong

Antonio PangelinanContributor INovember 9, 2011

Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova, 2011 Wimbledon Champs
Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova, 2011 Wimbledon ChampsPool/Getty Images

In the vast world of tennis, most "experts"—like former players, tennis writers and professional tennis commentators—refer to players who win any of the four major tennis tournaments as Grand Slam champions.


The lone wolf, it seems, is Bud Collins, the venerable tennis writer/commentator and formidable tennis historian. For years, Collins has been trying to teach former players and tennis commentators that, to win a Grand Slam, one needs to win all four majors in a calendar year.

A player must win the Australian Open in January, the French Open in May, Wimbledon in June and the U.S. Open in August—then, and only then, can that person rightly be referred to as a true Grand Slam champion.

The Internet is rife with inaccuracies about the Grand Slam. It appears that it is much easier to refer to majors as "slams".

It is not as though those who talk about the majors as slams are uniformed.

Former major champions—John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors— have all referred to majors as Grand Slams. If one listens to those former champions, one assumes that, if a player wins a major, that that player is considered a Grand Slam champion.

How difficult could it be to use the right term as it relates to a tennis champion?

None too easy, it seems. Every year, there are at least eight players referred to as Grand Slam tennis champions.

Oh, really?

It makes one wonder how former Grand Slam champions, like Australians Rod Laver and Margaret Court, really feel about their respective accomplishments in tennis. They are legitimate winners of the Grand Slam title, having won all four majors in a calendar year.

Laver even did it twice!

He won once in 1962, then again in 1969. Had he not been banned from competing in the majors when he turned professional, he might have won more Grand Slams. 

As the world of tennis continues to misuse the term "Grand Slam champion", one can only wonder if the next (as yet unknown) winner of the Grand Slam will speak out and finally declare the truth: he or she is the only one who truly deserves the title.

Just a thought.