There is nothing quite like the nervous anticipation that hangs over a Grand Slam tennis arena when the final point of a match is in the balance. A player serves at 40-30, leading 5-3 in the final set. His first ball crashes into the net amid groans from the crowd. He tosses his second ball further back, and swipes his racquet at an angle, delivering a slice second serve that pings into the centre of the service court. His opponent smashes it down the line, but he returns a blistering crosscourt forehand just inches from the tramlines. It is an unreachable shot. He punches his fist into the air as the crowd roars, jumping to their feet. The umpire’s words, “Game, set, match!” are lost in the furore as tears stream, and the dejected runner-up approaches the net for the obligatory handshake: a winner is crowned.
The Grand Slam Tennis Calendar
Grand Slam Tennis offers an exciting display of skill, tenacity and experience. Much like the top events in golf, athletics and swimming, the performance of the individual athlete is the stand-out; there is no team on the court to push him on, he has to rely on his wits and ability on his own.
The four Grand Slam tennis events which take place throughout the year each bring a unique set of challenges: weather conditions, the type of court surface, which player made the draw and dress code.
Here’s a quick guide to the four epic events that comprise the annual Grand Slam tennis calendar:
The Australian Open
January sees blistering temperatures and even hotter action take place at Melbourne Park, where the three principal courts have retractable roofs to manage the weather variations. The event takes place on blue hardcourts, which use acrylic plexicushion surfaces (rated as medium speed by the International Tennis Federation).
- Did you know? The Australian Open makes use of EHP (Extreme Heat Policy) under which umpires can suspend any tennis match when the temperatures get too high.
- Best of Melbourne: This easy-going Australian city has been named the World’s Most Liveable City for five consecutive years.
The French Open storms into action in late May, where a whole horde of clay-court specialists come out to play. Passionate French fans, dressed in the colours of their favourite players chant and sing between points, emitting roars of approval when a baseline point comes to an end with a desperate drop shot.
- Did you know? The red-clay courts are made up of a total of five layers around 80cm in depth: stones, gravel, clinker (volcanic residue), limestone and crushed brick.
- Best of Paris: Tennis fans also flock to sights like the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, the Champs Elysees and The Louvre.
Widely considered the most prestigious event on the Grand Slam tennis calendar, The Championships, Wimbledon – an all-white dress code tournament – is played on pristine grass courts at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in July. Famous tennis rivalries have seen incredible matches play out here over the years.
- Did you know? The Queue is where members of the public can queue for on-the-day tickets at the Gate 3 turnstiles. It is recommended to join The Queue early in the day!
- Best of London: A city both dedicated to future trends and modernity, but committed to traditional values and the esteemed monarchy, London begs to be explored.
The US Open
The US Open is the final tournament on the Grand Slam tennis calendar and is also the second event to play on traditional hard courts. Taking place at Flushing Meadows USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in Queens, it draws tennis fans from all over the continental US and from around the world who flock to New York to enjoy blistering tennis action.
- Did you know? The venue is named after former American World No.1 Billie Jean King, who won a whopping 39 Grand Slam titles across singles, doubles and mixed doubles events.
- Best of New York: Although the US Open is based in Queens, it is just a quick bus and ferry ride over to Manhattan. Visit the Empire State Building, mosey around Central Park or enjoy a traditional pastrami on rye at a lower-east side deli.
- The US Open is the only Grand Slam event to employ tiebreakers in the final set of a match; other events require the match to continue until one player wins by two games.
- Wimbledon’s famous ‘Henman Hill’ is the grassy slope within the All England Lawn Tennis Club grounds that faces a big screen, streaming the live action from the centre court.
- Suzanne Lenglen Court at Roland Garros was named after a former 15-year old world champion, who refused to wear corset and hats and was nicknamed ‘La Divine.’
- Due to the heat, the Australian Open has a night session whereby 5-set matches often continue into the early hours of the morning.