Golden Slams Don’t Happen Very Often in Tennis, but a Few Could This Year – Here’s How
Photo: German tennis player Steffi Graf playing in the 1988 Wimbledon women’s singles tournament.
If an athlete claims victory in each Grand Slam, otherwise known as tennis majors – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open – and also wins gold at the Olympic Games or Paralympic Games, that person achieves a Golden Slam, or Golden Grand Slam. It’s about as rare as Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.
Players Who Have Won, or Could Win, a Calendar Golden Slam
German player Steffi Graf won all four consecutive majors and the Olympics in women’s singles in 1988. In fact, she’s the first and only player to have ever achieved a calendar Golden Slam (racking in titles at four majors and the Olympics all in the same calendar year). However, American twins Bob and Mike Bryan in men’s doubles achieved a non-calendar-year Golden Slam by winning at the Olympics and US Open in 2012, then the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon in 2013. It’s been dubbed the “Bryan Golden Slam.”
Dutch player Diede de Groot could become the first athlete in wheelchair tennis to achieve a calendar Golden Slam, according to the International Tennis Federation. She’s brought home wins at the 2021 Australian Open, the 2021 French Open, and 2021 Wimbledon. If she gets a gold medal at the Paralympics this summer and subsequently wins the US Open, she’ll set a record with this Golden Slam. Even if she doesn’t receive gold in Tokyo, winning the US Open this year would still mean she’d be the first wheelchair tennis player to claim all four major titles in a calendar year.
On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic, representing Serbia, is trying for a calendar Golden Slam. If he achieves it, he’ll be the first man to have done so. Australian Dylan Alcott, like de Groot, is looking to become the first wheelchair tennis player with a calendar Golden Slam (he’d also be the first man across tennis divisions to achieve a calendar Golden Slam if Djokovic doesn’t). UK men’s wheelchair doubles pair Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid are looking for a calendar Golden Slam this year as well.
What Is a Career Golden Slam?
A career Golden Slam occurs when an athlete wins each of the four Grand Slams and a Paralympic or Olympic gold medal and it’s not limited to a single year. Andre Agassi, from the US, and Spain’s Rafael Nadal have won career Golden Slams in men’s singles. Aside from her calendar-year Golden Slam, Graf also claimed a career Golden Slam.
Serena and Venus Williams were able to achieve a career Golden Slam in women’s doubles with their 1999 French Open, 1999 US Open, and 2000 Wimbledon titles; their 2000 Olympics gold medal; and their victory at the 2001 Australian Open. Serena then went on to claim a career Golden Slam of her own between 1999 and 2012, clinching it at the London Olympic Games. She was the first tennis player with a career Golden Slam in both singles and doubles. Meanwhile, Alcott secured a career Golden Slam in both quad wheelchair singles and doubles in 2019.
So much golden potential awaits the tennis courts this summer! And we’re eager to watch it all play out before us.