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View Full Version : What were the rules for the Calendar Grand Slam in '77 & '86?


Moose Malloy
06-04-2007, 12:19 PM
Since there were 5 slams held in '77 & only 3 in '86, I was wondering if the ITF or any other organization had any rule in place as to what constituted a Calendar Grand Slam those years.

Lendl made the finals of all 3 slams in '86, winning 2, had he won all 3 of them what would that have counted as? Would he have had to win the '87 AO for a Grand Slam to count?

In '77, if a player won 4 slams in a row, regardless of which ones(since there were 5 that year), would it have counted as a Grand Slam? Or would they have to win all 5?

LttlElvis
06-04-2007, 12:36 PM
Interesting thoughts Moose. I remembered thinking about that back in 1986. I don't know. It goes to show you how difficult it is to win a true calendar year tennis grand slam.

http://www.answers.com/topic/grand-slam-tennis

Do any of you remember when Steffi Graf won the Grand Slam and Olympic medal in 1988? I remember when she won the U.S. Open, the announcers really didn't even mention it. There was really no media hype about it. It's amazing right now how we are waiting to see if Federer will win the (calendar) Grand Slam and he really only has one leg of it this year.

When Navratilova won 6 slams in a row, though not calendar year, I think I remember Bud Collins saying this was not a Grand Slam. He said it should have been called a Grand 6.

chaognosis
06-04-2007, 01:38 PM
Interesting thoughts Moose. I remembered thinking about that back in 1986. I don't know. It goes to show you how difficult it is to win a true calendar year tennis grand slam.

http://www.answers.com/topic/grand-slam-tennis

Do any of you remember when Steffi Graf won the Grand Slam and Olympic medal in 1988? I remember when she won the U.S. Open, the announcers really didn't even mention it. There was really no media hype about it. It's amazing right now how we are waiting to see if Federer will win the (calendar) Grand Slam and he really only has one leg of it this year.

When Navratilova won 6 slams in a row, though not calendar year, I think I remember Bud Collins saying this was not a Grand Slam. He said it should have been called a Grand 6.

He also called it a "Sham Slam."

Moose Malloy
06-16-2007, 01:06 PM
anyone know the answer?

vive le beau jeu !
06-16-2007, 02:49 PM
anyone know the answer?
i also wondered about it... but is there really an answer ?

singular cases.
the "mini gran slam" in 1986 and the "special maxi gran slam plus" in 1977 ?... ;)

maverick1
06-16-2007, 03:12 PM
When Navratilova won 6 slams in a row, though not calendar year, I think I remember Bud Collins saying this was not a Grand Slam. He said it should have been called a Grand 6.

I think the obsession with the "calendar" slam is misplaced. Holding all four titles at once is the key accomplishment. The "calendar" part is a mere coincidence that has nothing to do with Tennis skills. If anything, it is marginally harder to win 4 in a row across two seasons.

Taking this calendar obsession to the extreme, what if someone one won the "millennium" slam in 2000? Would he be the GOAT for having an accomplishment that is guaranteed not to be matched for at least a 1000 years?

chaognosis
06-16-2007, 03:41 PM
I think the obsession with the "calendar" slam is misplaced. Holding all four titles at once is the key accomplishment. The "calendar" part is a mere coincidence that has nothing to do with Tennis skills. If anything, it is marginally harder to win 4 in a row across two seasons.

Taking this calendar obsession to the extreme, what if someone one won the "millennium" slam in 2000? Would he be the GOAT for having an accomplishment that is guaranteed not to be matched for at least a 1000 years?

Wrong. The pressure is greater for the true Grand Slam (four majors in one season), because if you lose once it kills the dream for the whole year. If you just want four straight majors, and you lose, say, at the French, you can start your quest again at Wimbledon. Also, if you win four majors over two years, then you benefit from the long break at the end of the year. Part of the difficulty of the Grand Slam is maintaining that momentum while battling inevitable fatigue. It's why the true Grand Slam is the highest achievement in the sport, far more prestigious than the non-calendar variety. (History does not put the Martina Slam or Serena Slam in the same class as the true Slams of Budge, Connolly, Laver, Court and Graf, and I doubt that will ever change.) Of course, some of it also simply has to do with tradition and prestige.

maverick1
06-16-2007, 04:57 PM
Wrong. The pressure is greater for the true Grand Slam (four majors in one season), because if you lose once it kills the dream for the whole year. If you just want four straight majors, and you lose, say, at the French, you can start your quest again at Wimbledon.

The pressure part only applies if you attach special importance to the calendar slam, but that very importance is what I am questioning.

Besides, trying to win a major is big enough pressure. I don't think Nadal would have had any extra pressure in the French if his clay streak had been in tact. The streak would have been the last thing on his mind while playing Federer in the Final. If Fed had won French, then Wimbledon and lost in US Open, I find it hard it imagine anyone giving the psychological pressure of the grand slam as factor in his defeat. I can see the focus on trying to win RG affecting his hardcourt game, but that is different.

What you are saying is that there are 4 ways to get a simple slam and only one way to get a Calendar slam(must begin with Australian and end with US).
In other words, a calendar slam is statistically 4 times less likely than a "simple" slam.

But just because something is less likely doesn't make it more worthy, just like a slam in the millennium year is no more worthy than one in an odd year.


Also, if you win four majors over two years, then you benefit from the long break at the end of the year. Part of the difficulty of the Grand Slam is maintaining that momentum while battling inevitable fatigue.

OK, it is a fair point that the break at the end of the year could make it a bit easier. But my point is equally valid that, in other ways, spreading out dominance over a longer period is more impressive than bunching it over a short period. It shows that the success is not simply due to a hot streak.
It is also hard to play your best when you come off a break and beat a bunch of hungry players some of may have been working their butt off while you were taking a rest after having a big season.

All said and done, the tennis off season is so short that the off season "break" is a minor point. The proper Australian-to-US calendar slam and a French-to-Australian slam both take about 9 months.


It's why the true Grand Slam is the highest achievement in the sport, far more prestigious than the non-calendar variety.

I disagree about the reason why. The reason it is considered the highest achievement is people's obsession with coincidences.

krosero
06-16-2007, 06:40 PM
A traditional Grand Slam would require 8 months from a player -- January through September.

Winning four straight Slams would require as few as 7 months, if someone started at RG and finished at the AO. That's what Graf did in 1993-94 and Serena Williams in 2002-03.

It might also require as much as 11 months, if someone started at Wimbledon and finished with the FO. That's what Navratilova did in 1983-84. So she already did more than is required in a traditional Slam.

And unlike Graf or Williams, Navratilova kept winning, taking Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1984 -- so she won Slams for 14 straight months.

I have always thought that Navratilova had a real Grand Slam.

I see why we might attach importance to a calendar Slam, but I'm not sure there are any objective reasons for it. Holding all four Slams simultaneously is the achievement, I think.

The year-end break is a good question, but a break affects all players and not just the one gunning for the Slam. The field is leveled.

And there's another factor to consider. The year-end break is a time when players rest and prepare for a new season. Some players come out of the break better than others and do very well in the new season; in other words, the break MIGHT be a key period in which dominance shifts. If so, it would be harder for someone to keep dominating across two calendars years.

The break, in short, is just MORE time required of the player -- more time in which he or she has to stay fit and focused and on top of everyone else.

urban
06-16-2007, 10:44 PM
The Grand Slam only is the Calendar Grand Slam, it was invented by John Kieran and Allison Danzig, who restricted it to this meaning. The ITF under Chatrier made a futile attempt in the 80s, to draw the players to the majors, and set out a price for winning al 4 running. Martina did this, but as Chaog said, it was never accepted by the vast majority of tennis public. I would say in 77, the Jan AO, and in 86 the one, that Edberg won.

chaognosis
06-16-2007, 11:42 PM
Urban, do you know exactly when they first used the term? I have heard conflicting reports. Some claim the "Grand Slam" was coined during Jack Crawford's 1933 run - of course, he ultimately didn't quite pull it off. Other sources say that the term came into use only after Budge accomplished the first Grand Slam in '38. Personally I am inclined to accept the earlier date, though it is curious that there is no agreement on this point. A related question: do you know if the term was used to describe Bobby Jones's feat first, and if so could this have influenced its application to tennis? Or on the contrary, was Jones's accomplishment only dubbed a "Grand Slam" years after the fact?

urban
06-17-2007, 01:20 AM
Chaog, in 'Total Tennis' it is said, that the Bridge player Kieran coined the phrase in 1933 on the eve of the Crawford-Perry Forest Hills match. Danzig applicated the term on Budge's slam in 1938. I don't know precisely, whether the Bridge term originally was associated with Jones' success in 1930. I think they called it magic quadruple, but the term Grand Slam is indeed often associated with Jones' win, which consisted of course of the British and US amateurs and opens in those days - other than today with the Masters and the PGA.

CyBorg
06-17-2007, 09:26 AM
Winning the grand slam is kind of like hitting for the cycle in baseball (for those who don't know .. single, double, triple, home run in one match).

Strangely, it is not considered to be nearly as special to homer twice and hit two doubles in the same match. Impressive, but the reactions are for some reason less orgasmic, despite the fact that the player actually bags more bases with the latter accomplishment.

The grand slam is similarly arbitrary. What would you rather have, for example - a grand slam in one year and one major the following year, totalling up to five majors in two years, OR six majors in two years, three in each?

I'd take the latter.

tHotGates
06-17-2007, 09:44 AM
In order of difficulty, I would rate the Golden Slam as toughest.

I would put the calender slam (all four 4 slams in one year) in second.

I would say a non calender slam (holding all 4 slams at the same time. See, Tiger Woods "Tiger Slam" for reference.)

Coming in last would be a career slam which is no small feat.


Interesting question (77 & 86).

chaognosis
06-17-2007, 09:46 AM
Winning the grand slam is kind of like hitting for the cycle in baseball (for those who don't know .. single, double, triple, home run in one match).

Strangely, it is not considered to be nearly as special to homer twice and hit two doubles in the same match. Impressive, but the reactions are for some reason less orgasmic, despite the fact that the player actually bags more bases with the latter accomplishment.

The grand slam is similarly arbitrary. What would you rather have, for example - a grand slam in one year and one major the following year, totalling up to five majors in two years, OR six majors in two years, three in each?

I'd take the latter.

Foolish. It may only be a matter of tradition and prestige, but these things are important in sports. Why, for example, is Wimbledon more important than any other tournament? Tradition and prestige. The Grand Slam is historically the most coveted achievement in tennis, and so it is 'worth' more than any other combination of majors. Navratilova's six straight majors are not regarded as highly as Graf's true Grand Slam, and whatever your personal feelings about the matter, that's simply the way history regards these things. If you chose six straight majors over a true Grand Slam, then you would go down in history as a lesser player. But it's your (hypothetical) choice, of course.

chaognosis
06-17-2007, 09:51 AM
In order of difficulty, I would rate the Golden Slam as toughest.

I would put the calender slam (all four 4 slams in one year) in second.

I would say a non calender slam (holding all 4 slams at the same time. See, Tiger Woods "Tiger Slam" for reference.)

Coming in last would be a career slam which is no small feat.


Interesting question (77 & 86).

The so-called "Golden Slam" is a bit of an aberration and not very useful for comparing players, simply because tennis was not an Olympic event for most of its history. The Grand Slam has been the true benchmark since the 1930s, and all these lesser variants ("non-calendar Slam" or "career Slam") were merely invented because nobody was able to pull off the real deal in a very long time. When most fans haven't even been alive to see the last Grand Slam by a male player, they've had to settle for more attainable achievements.

tHotGates
06-17-2007, 10:23 AM
The so-called "Golden Slam" is a bit of an aberration and not very useful for comparing players, simply because tennis was not an Olympic event for most of its history. The Grand Slam has been the true benchmark since the 1930s, and all these lesser variants ("non-calendar Slam" or "career Slam") were merely invented because nobody was able to pull off the real deal in a very long time. When most fans haven't even been alive to see the last Grand Slam by a male player, they've had to settle for more attainable achievements.


Fair enough ... good points.

krosero
06-17-2007, 04:07 PM
The Grand Slam has been the true benchmark since the 1930s, and all these lesser variants ("non-calendar Slam" or "career Slam") were merely invented because nobody was able to pull off the real deal in a very long time. When most fans haven't even been alive to see the last Grand Slam by a male player, they've had to settle for more attainable achievements.A non-calendar Slam is not the same as a "career Slam". The latter is not a category of consecutive victories and should not be shoved together with the consecutive victories of a non-calendar Slam as if both were "lesser variants" of the calendar Grand Slam. No one in this thread has yet proposed that a career Slam is equivalent to a calendar Slam. They are apples and oranges.

As to what is lesser and what is greater -- to use your word, what is more attainable -- the calendar Slam is less attainable because there is only one way to do it. It is arbitrarily set as starting with the first major of the calendar year. So of course there will be fewer opportunities to do it. That is far and away what makes it less attainable, or to use other words, more difficult or greater.

But what objective factor makes winning 4 Slams in the calendar year more difficult or greater?

What history says is one thing, but that is not a fixed thing. The esteem in which the Davis Cup is held has changed, for example. The same holds true for the Slams. MooseMalloy mentioned in a thread a while back that Emerson did not even know he held the record for the total number of Slams, because it was not highly regarded in his day. It is now. That is also true for the non-calendar Slam. The reason it is highly regarded today is not, as you argued, because no one has achieved a calendar Slam in a long time. The reason is undoubtedly because no one until Martina achieved a non-calendar Slam apart from a calendar Slam. Now people are achieving it, and we're simply asking if these achievements are equally hard or equally great as what was done in the past.

Moose Malloy
06-17-2007, 04:22 PM
But what objective factor makes winning 4 Slams in the calendar year more difficult or greater?


Well, media attention certainly adds to the pressure. When Serena was trying to win the Serena slam, it didn't receive nearly the attention as Graf trying to win the calendar slam in '88. Everyone was asked about it at the '88 US Open(& the events leading up to it), even the men. I don't recall the other players being asked about Serena in Australia. Graf was under a lot more pressure than Serena.
If Federer won the French, the non calendar aspect probably wouldn't have been as emphasized as much as the career slam aspect. And the media coverage leading into Wimbledon & the US Open would have been through the roof, unlike anything Federer's experienced I imagine.

When Laver was attempting to complete the Slam at the '69 US Open, he was offered a significant guarantee of endorsements should he complete the Slam. I'm sure no offer would have been made had he done it non calender.
Endorsements were rare then, that money was very significant to Laver & added to the pressure he must have felt.

krosero
06-17-2007, 04:52 PM
Well, media attention certainly adds to the pressure. When Serena was trying to win the Serena slam, it didn't receive nearly the attention as Graf trying to win the calendar slam in '88. Everyone was asked about it at the '88 US Open(& the events leading up to it), even the men. I don't recall the other players being asked about Serena in Australia. Graf was under a lot more pressure than Serena.
If Federer won the French, the non calendar aspect probably wouldn't have been as emphasized as much as the career slam aspect. And the media coverage leading into Wimbledon & the US Open would have been through the roof, unlike anything Federer's experienced I imagine.

When Laver was attempting to complete the Slam at the '69 US Open, he was offered a significant guarantee of endorsements should he complete the Slam. I'm sure no offer would have been made had he done it non calender.
Endorsements were rare then, that money was very significant to Laver & added to the pressure he must have felt.No question that pressure is a factor, an enormous one. But why is the pressure there?

It's a little like comparing a man who won all of his service points in a set, like Cash in the 1987 Wimbledon final, against someone who had a longer streak but spread out over two sets, like Roddick when he lost to Johansson at the 2004 USO. Cash had 20 straight points on serve, Roddick 29. Clearly the latter is the greater streak (leaving aside questions of different eras, equipment, etc.) But there's a symmetry to what Cash did, an appeal that's purely arbitrary.

Navratilova won 6 straight Slams, while Graf won 5 straight when she won her calendar Slam. They each faced the media pressure a comparable number of months. Which achievement was greater?

CyBorg
06-17-2007, 06:06 PM
Navratilova's six straight majors are not regarded as highly as Graf's true Grand Slam, and whatever your personal feelings about the matter, that's simply the way history regards these things.

Nice use of the passive there. Regarded by whom? Certainly not me.

Is this some kind of a tennis majority? Tennis elite? Who are these people?

chaognosis
06-17-2007, 06:39 PM
Nice use of the passive there. Regarded by whom? Certainly not me.

Is this some kind of a tennis majority? Tennis elite? Who are these people?

Yes, the tennis majority. The history books. Read a little, and you'll see.

Here's just one quick example, from Peter Bodo:

"Now that the first major of the year is over, the field of candidates who have a shot at completing a Grand Slam -- not a Serena Slam, not a Martina Slam, nor any other kind of Sham Slam -- has been narrowed down to two individuals. That's right. It's the first day of February and just two people, Roger Federer and Serena Williams, have a chance to complete the mission that stands at the apex of athletic achievement in our time -- right up there with a perfect NFL season, or a pitcher throwing a perfect game … in the seventh game of the World Series."

A terrific French website, histoiredutennis.com, is devoted to the "Legend of the Grand Slam."

I have a great many books written over the past fifty years or so, and they all regard the Grand Slam as the highest achievement in the game of tennis. You can try all you want to argue with the establishment, but sports are in large part about glory and tradition and prestige - and the Grand Slam has many decades of history behind it. The vast majority of tennis observers would agree with me, that the true Grand Slam is 'greater' than any non-calendar streak.

CyBorg
06-18-2007, 06:35 AM
Yes, the tennis majority. The history books. Read a little, and you'll see.

Here's just one quick example, from Peter Bodo:

"Now that the first major of the year is over, the field of candidates who have a shot at completing a Grand Slam -- not a Serena Slam, not a Martina Slam, nor any other kind of Sham Slam -- has been narrowed down to two individuals. That's right. It's the first day of February and just two people, Roger Federer and Serena Williams, have a chance to complete the mission that stands at the apex of athletic achievement in our time -- right up there with a perfect NFL season, or a pitcher throwing a perfect game in the seventh game of the World Series."

A terrific French website, histoiredutennis.com, is devoted to the "Legend of the Grand Slam."

I have a great many books written over the past fifty years or so, and they all regard the Grand Slam as the highest achievement in the game of tennis. You can try all you want to argue with the establishment, but sports are in large part about glory and tradition and prestige - and the Grand Slam has many decades of history behind it. The vast majority of tennis observers would agree with me, that the true Grand Slam is 'greater' than any non-calendar streak.

Does Bodo go into any great detail as to why he feels this way?

His analogy to pitching a perfect game in the seventh game of the world series surprises me. After all, pitching well enough to win is actually all that matters. That's like saying that playing a perfect set (ironically a feat not hyped up much in the media for reasons unexplained) is the apex of athletic accomplishment, despite the fact that one can still dominate a set while giving up a few points (or hits if you will).

But, regardless of what Mr. Bodo says (I admit to not having read any of his books), I would like to know from you why you consider the grand slam to be the pre-eminent accomplishment without appeal to authority or reference to words like 'benchmark' (manufactured standards). In terms of sheer athletic excellence, what makes the grand slam pre-eminent and more indicative of greatness than aspects such as long-term success or consistent dominance over a period of three-to-five years?

You see, I think we don't have as much a difference in philosophy as a different way of looking at what is greatness. You seem to associate greatness with a certain spirit of the game - an unseen, ghostly aura (which explains why you laud Wimbledon as more special than the other slams). To you, there's a certain divine excellence associated with the Slam, much like with Wimbledon. You see it as almost holy, from what I can tell. Perhaps somewhat fatalistic almost. In fact, in one of your posts you mention the word 'dream' in reference to the slam, which says a lot about the way you think.

I am more of a raw, pragmatic thinker. I don't believe in unseen forces, aura and divinity. To me there is no guiding hand. There are the two players, the ball, the rackets, the surfaces and the weather conditions. These factors combine to create the outcome. I do not believe that Wimbledon, in all its glory, is divine but a tournament like any other, except that by virtue of the wealth of its draws and the effort that players put into winning it, it demands respect - but, in my view, not moreso than other majors with draws as good or better.

I see the grand slam (the so-called apex of tennis excellence) as a cash cow for the media and the golden goose of those who practice sports as religion (seeing it as historical art, rather than physical). The pragmatic thinker in me sees that no grand slam is alike - the dreamer sees them all as the gold standard, alike. I see each one as an individual case for criticism, such as Laver's first slam accomplished as an amateur or Don Budge's grand slam accomplished against such tennis greats as Roderick Menzel and Gene Mako.

To the tennis dreamer, it doesn't matter what Budge did once he turned professional in 1939 as he stopped playing in grand slams. To a tennis dreamer, it doesn't matter whether each of the four grand slams had consistently wealthy draws across the board. A tennis dreamer, in fact, isn't interested in draws it all. What he is interested in is the manufactured golden standard, once uttred and since celebrated - even by some knowledgeable individuals. The gold standard of the slam - regardless of facts, regardless of draws, regardless of surfaces, regardless of amateur or pro competition. Regardless of all that, the slam is the gold standard.

I find this kind of thinking befuddling. I will try my best to respect it even though I perceive it as unintelligent.

CyBorg
06-18-2007, 06:49 AM
What history says is one thing, but that is not a fixed thing. The esteem in which the Davis Cup is held has changed, for example. The same holds true for the Slams. MooseMalloy mentioned in a thread a while back that Emerson did not even know he held the record for the total number of Slams, because it was not highly regarded in his day. It is now. That is also true for the non-calendar Slam. The reason it is highly regarded today is not, as you argued, because no one has achieved a calendar Slam in a long time. The reason is undoubtedly because no one until Martina achieved a non-calendar Slam apart from a calendar Slam. Now people are achieving it, and we're simply asking if these achievements are equally hard or equally great as what was done in the past.

The majors total is another gold standard that has developed over the past few decades. It is particularly important to the media and amateur tennis statisticians now - a mere curiosity even 30 years ago.

The number somewhat accurately sums up the success of players participating for the past 20 years. Otherwise, it ignores many basic facets such as the Australian Open drought of the 70s and a part of the 80s. It also ignores the amateur and pro ranks and the effect that had on majors totals leading up to the open era.

This is yet another arbitrary gold standard. Just like the grand slam. It holds no value because in its pure, unadulterated form (1987-2007) it has no history to stand on.

chaognosis
06-18-2007, 08:24 AM
Does Bodo go into any great detail as to why he feels this way?

His analogy to pitching a perfect game in the seventh game of the world series surprises me. After all, pitching well enough to win is actually all that matters. That's like saying that playing a perfect set (ironically a feat not hyped up much in the media for reasons unexplained) is the apex of athletic accomplishment, despite the fact that one can still dominate a set while giving up a few points (or hits if you will).

But, regardless of what Mr. Bodo says (I admit to not having read any of his books), I would like to know from you why you consider the grand slam to be the pre-eminent accomplishment without appeal to authority or reference to words like 'benchmark' (manufactured standards). In terms of sheer athletic excellence, what makes the grand slam pre-eminent and more indicative of greatness than aspects such as long-term success or consistent dominance over a period of three-to-five years?

You see, I think we don't have as much a difference in philosophy as a different way of looking at what is greatness. You seem to associate greatness with a certain spirit of the game - an unseen, ghostly aura (which explains why you laud Wimbledon as more special than the other slams). To you, there's a certain divine excellence associated with the Slam, much like with Wimbledon. You see it as almost holy, from what I can tell. Perhaps somewhat fatalistic almost. In fact, in one of your posts you mention the word 'dream' in reference to the slam, which says a lot about the way you think.

I am more of a raw, pragmatic thinker. I don't believe in unseen forces, aura and divinity. To me there is no guiding hand. There are the two players, the ball, the rackets, the surfaces and the weather conditions. These factors combine to create the outcome. I do not believe that Wimbledon, in all its glory, is divine but a tournament like any other, except that by virtue of the wealth of its draws and the effort that players put into winning it, it demands respect - but, in my view, not moreso than other majors with draws as good or better.

I see the grand slam (the so-called apex of tennis excellence) as a cash cow for the media and the golden goose of those who practice sports as religion (seeing it as historical art, rather than physical). The pragmatic thinker in me sees that no grand slam is alike - the dreamer sees them all as the gold standard, alike. I see each one as an individual case for criticism, such as Laver's first slam accomplished as an amateur or Don Budge's grand slam accomplished against such tennis greats as Roderick Menzel and Gene Mako.

To the tennis dreamer, it doesn't matter what Budge did once he turned professional in 1939 as he stopped playing in grand slams. To a tennis dreamer, it doesn't matter whether each of the four grand slams had consistently wealthy draws across the board. A tennis dreamer, in fact, isn't interested in draws it all. What he is interested in is the manufactured golden standard, once uttred and since celebrated - even by some knowledgeable individuals. The gold standard of the slam - regardless of facts, regardless of draws, regardless of surfaces, regardless of amateur or pro competition. Regardless of all that, the slam is the gold standard.

I find this kind of thinking befuddling. I will try my best to respect it even though I perceive it as unintelligent.

Interesting. Thank you for your thorough remarks. Whether you see it as "unintelligent" or not, I am simply relaying the view of tennis "greatness" expressed by most historians of the game. And I don't think your characterization is correct. You consider me a "dreamer," but I do very much value Budge's pro success - for me, it's the overall arc of 1937-39 that establishes Budge as one of the very greatest of players. His triumphs over Vines and Perry in '39, if anything, help to bolster the significance of his amateur accomplishments. (Laver's '62 Slam, by contrast, appears a little more hollow in light of his subsequent thrashing as a pro by Rosewall.) I appreciate your thoughtful take on the game - it's never good to take anything purely at face value - but I do think you are too quick to dismiss everything you don't see as "raw" or "pragmatic." I believe in a more holistic approach, that is critical but that also respects the history and traditions of the game.

Sport is a physical contest, yes, but it is also a performance - and as such it consists of a relationship between the performers and the audience. The tradition, prestige, expectation, and mystique associated with such concepts as the "Grand Slam" are no small thing... by reaching for these benchmarks/standards, players are competing not just against other players, but also against the pressure of history. You should read Al Laney's book Covering the Court (1968 ), which is the best history of the amateur game that I know. Laney notes the problem of the early pro tours - while they had the best players, they weren't able to engage the emotions of spectators. As such, neither the players nor the fans had the sense that the pro matches were terribly meaningful. Jack Kramer wrote that Fred Perry was basically done as a competitive player the minute he turned pro - he just stopped caring. Also, Kramer felt that while Pancho Segura was a "better" player than Rosewall, he would have favored Rosewall in one of the "big finals" - because there is something altogether different about competing on the biggest stages under the eyes of the world. Greatness is not just about winning, but about winning when it matters most - and this is why we have concepts like the Grand Slam, to create such meaningful occasions.

CyBorg
06-18-2007, 09:11 AM
Interesting. Thank you for your thorough remarks. Whether you see it as "unintelligent" or not, I am simply relaying the view of tennis "greatness" expressed by most historians of the game. And I don't think your characterization is correct. You consider me a "dreamer," but I do very much value Budge's pro success - for me, it's the overall arc of 1937-39 that establishes Budge as one of the very greatest of players. His triumphs over Vines and Perry in '39, if anything, help to bolster the significance of his amateur accomplishments. (Laver's '62 Slam, by contrast, appears a little more hollow in light of his subsequent thrashing as a pro by Rosewall.) I appreciate your thoughtful take on the game - it's never good to take anything purely at face value - but I do think you are too quick to dismiss everything you don't see as "raw" or "pragmatic." I believe in a more holistic approach, that is critical but that also respects the history and traditions of the game.

Sport is a physical contest, yes, but it is also a performance - and as such it consists of a relationship between the performers and the audience. The tradition, prestige, expectation, and mystique associated with such concepts as the "Grand Slam" are no small thing... by reaching for these benchmarks/standards, players are competing not just against other players, but also against the pressure of history. You should read Al Laney's book Covering the Court (1968 ), which is the best history of the amateur game that I know. Laney notes the problem of the early pro tours - while they had the best players, they weren't able to engage the emotions of spectators. As such, neither the players nor the fans had the sense that the pro matches were terribly meaningful. Jack Kramer wrote that Fred Perry was basically done as a competitive player the minute he turned pro - he just stopped caring. Also, Kramer felt that while Pancho Segura was a "better" player than Rosewall, he would have favored Rosewall in one of the "big finals" - because there is something altogether different about competing on the biggest stages under the eyes of the world. Greatness is not just about winning, but about winning when it matters most - and this is why we have concepts like the Grand Slam, to create such meaningful occasions.

Also interesting and not unfamiliar. I know of similar legends and traditions from other sports and I admit that I held them dear to me when I was younger. But with time history for me became less romantic - not altogether as I still romanticize somewhat - and more as an analytical sum of little particles, devoid of absolutes. I spent several years working in scouting, watching and writing about ice hockey players which drove me further inward into the realities of sports on and off the field (or rink). All the romanticism pretty much shriveled up and died right there. Knowing athletes throughout the years I have begun to see them as confused individuals caught in a corporate web that they cannot fully comprehend and hence they do what they can under the circumstances. The hindsight comes later - much later; after their careers, fueled by ignorance of most things about life, come to an end. Seeing this I am even more disturbed by the holier-than-thou institutions that the powers-that-be instill upon the curious, misunderstood creations of these athletes. They manufacture mystique where there isn't any - all there is is mostly discontent. I look at these players today and in the years back and all I see are kids whose respective essences as tennis players are abstractly defined and reinvented by talking heads, contributing to a greater mystique (or as I like to think of it as a greater lie or 'untruth). What we see as 'greatness' we judge based on happenstance and audacity. Out of this comes the show - no more intellectual in its nature than a bullfight - we want to be entertained by witnessing a man conquering the feat that we over the years have deemed to be impossible, all for our collective pleasure. It is important because we the fans or we the media have decided it is so - the players have no role as I've already mentioned. They're bystanders, too young to really be involved in 'history' aside from "reacting" to it.

I abhore the machine. What interests me are the players, but not necessarily their minds or personalities - because very few of them are interesting - but rather their pure effectiveness and the way I can analyze it through 'scouting' (developing an ability to dissect their game thoroughly, while anticipating and being aware of the rise and fall fo their abilities). These things are the only pure aspects to the game for me - they are anthropology; not exact science but close. It's fieldwork. I can assess one player's grand slam victory against another's. I can assess one player's adjustment to a fast surface from a slow surface or vice versa.

The Grand Slam is essentially none of this. It's a nice story that is fit within a box and wrapped up with a bow. The box is closed in - it has sides and a top with a bottom. It is not ambiguous. The Grand Slam is similarly so - it is entirely comperehensible and not open to interpretation. It begins at an arbitrary date (set by a non-playing entity) and ends at a specified date as well. The story lies in between and it is probably a good story, but the barries indicate to me that the boxing-in of the story exists because it is commodified. The story is packed and sold to the general public in such a way that it can be comprehensible and non-ambiguous.

What is much more ambiguious in a player's greatness is playing incredible tennis and falling a few sets short of winning a grand slam. Great tennis - maybe even the greatest tennis ever. But the stars didn't align, as some dreamers would say. But it is still great tennis. But it can't be commodified. Can't sell a book about this. Can't put together a DVD set. The public needs absolutes. Martina Navratilova wins six majors in a row - holds all four at the same time twice, but doesn't really win the grand slam itself as scripted by the powers that be. Incredible accomplishment, but can you commodify it? No. You can't - it doesn't flow.

Capitalists can commodify. The producers and media will do their thing and many will listen to that stuff. But there is only one thing that makes sense to me - I can analyze a particular performance and deem it worthy of excellence regardless of the approval of the Gods from above. I can deduce if I want to that a player performed better in defeat than another did in victory. I can do that if my observations indicate this. The arbitrariness of the Grand Slam does the opposite - it establishes the grounds for me; the schema and then asks me to fill in the blanks. I refuse. I do not have to acknowledge the Grand Slam. I can make my own grounds. As long as I have my own wit.

chaognosis
06-18-2007, 10:04 AM
The arbitrariness of the Grand Slam does the opposite - it establishes the grounds for me; the schema and then asks me to fill in the blanks. I refuse. I do not have to acknowledge the Grand Slam. I can make my own grounds. As long as I have my own wit.

Yes, you can certainly make your own grounds. As I said, I respect your individualistic approach to sport. You must then resign yourself, however, to living in your own little world, while tennis moves on without you, and history continues to be written according to the beloved schema you've chosen to reject.

P.S. We all need a little romanticism in life - it's not only for the young.

chaognosis
06-18-2007, 10:45 AM
One final note. CyBorg, I agree with you that a player can give a better performance in defeat than in victory. Many authorities, in fact, considered Tilden's finest hour to be his 1927 loss to Rene Lacoste in the U.S. Championships, 11-9, 6-3, 11-9. (One can count Danzig and Laney, two of the very greatest tennis writers of all time, among them.) In more recent memory, I have felt that Federer's loss to Safin at the 2005 Australian Open was one of his very best performances and accordingly only added to his "greatness." I take offense to the notion that I (along with apparently everyone other than you!) take a facile, cookie-cutter approach to tennis history. On the contrary, I think it is very important to read and appreciate the views of all those observers who've come before us, and not toss everything out the window in favor of our own "wit." Maybe some of our historical benchmarks seem arbitrary, but the Grand Slam has existed for many decades and many players' stories have been tied up with this quest. To eschew it is to erase much of the history of this sport, which I find unconscionable, no matter how noble your ideological intentions.

krosero
06-18-2007, 11:20 AM
Yes, you can certainly make your own grounds. As I said, I respect your individualistic approach to sport. You must then resign yourself, however, to living in your own little world, while tennis moves on without you, and history continues to be written according to the beloved schema you've chosen to reject.I don't understand this. As I said, history, or rather the way history is written, is not a fixed thing. Some of the most beloved benchmarks once didn't exist. The Grand Slam was once a non-entity in Tilden's great era, but once someone accomplished it, room was made for this new category. I still think this particular category is an arbitrary benchmark, but forget my arguments for the time being. I'm asking about yours. What you accurately call a beloved schema would not have come into being unless room was made for it; the establishment in 1938 could have chosen to keep the old schema and not even bother with the Grand Slam, but they did acknowledge it; the schema was changed. History began being written in a new way.

A fan with an individualistic judgment is hardly letting "tennis" go on without him; he's a part of the tennis world. New fans push history to get written in a new way; sometimes they themselves will be the ones to write the new histories. Unless they hold a cuckoo opinion that no one else holds, they won't be letting "tennis" go on without them; they're a part of the evolution of the game, in this case the evolution of the way we judge excellence and achievement.

CyBorg
06-18-2007, 11:31 AM
Yes, you can certainly make your own grounds. As I said, I respect your individualistic approach to sport. You must then resign yourself, however, to living in your own little world, while tennis moves on without you, and history continues to be written according to the beloved schema you've chosen to reject.

P.S. We all need a little romanticism in life - it's not only for the young.

You're assuming that all is written about tennis is schema - that's not the case. Many things are, but not everything; the most superficial schema are in the mainstream media and many of these are harmless cliches. You're also assuming that by rejecting schema I am ignoring it, which is also not true. It is frequently entertaining and often endearing. It is another thing altogether to embrace the cut-and-paste rhetoric rather than letting it humour you.

CyBorg
06-18-2007, 11:38 AM
One final note. CyBorg, I agree with you that a player can give a better performance in defeat than in victory. Many authorities, in fact, considered Tilden's finest hour to be his 1927 loss to Rene Lacoste in the U.S. Championships, 11-9, 6-3, 11-9. (One can count Danzig and Laney, two of the very greatest tennis writers of all time, among them.) In more recent memory, I have felt that Federer's loss to Safin at the 2005 Australian Open was one of his very best performances and accordingly only added to his "greatness." I take offense to the notion that I (along with apparently everyone other than you!) take a facile, cookie-cutter approach to tennis history. On the contrary, I think it is very important to read and appreciate the views of all those observers who've come before us, and not toss everything out the window in favor of our own "wit." Maybe some of our historical benchmarks seem arbitrary, but the Grand Slam has existed for many decades and many players' stories have been tied up with this quest. To eschew it is to erase much of the history of this sport, which I find unconscionable, no matter how noble your ideological intentions.

In all likelihood, we both misunderstand each other to a degree. I definitely do not advocate eschewing alternative opinions - in fact, I believe that they are essential towards developing one own point of view.

However one needs to be careful with where to hang one's hat - what to delve into and what to reject. I, as established, reject any rhetoric that is created for the purposes of commodifying information - anything that sells the game to the general public (which is not to say that I don't hear it or not know of it). Otherwise I am definitely interested in everything that is engaging analytically and, to a point, historically (although I tend to narrow my interests down to the former).

chaognosis
06-18-2007, 11:52 AM
Good posts, CyBorg. I think I understand you better now.

hoodjem
01-23-2008, 10:14 AM
Foolish. It may only be a matter of tradition and prestige, but these things are important in sports. Why, for example, is Wimbledon more important than any other tournament? Tradition and prestige. The Grand Slam is historically the most coveted achievement in tennis, and so it is 'worth' more than any other combination of majors. Navratilova's six straight majors are not regarded as highly as Graf's true Grand Slam, and whatever your personal feelings about the matter, that's simply the way history regards these things. If you chose six straight majors over a true Grand Slam, then you would go down in history as a lesser player.

I support and agree with this. Tradition and prestige are very important in sports, and put extra pressure on a player to win--thus making it harder. Ergo greater status.

urban
01-23-2008, 12:06 PM
Its the "hic Rhodos, hic salta" effect. You have to use your one and only chance, in the conscience, that you get not many. Look, in 1955 Trabert won 3 in a row, but had lost the first at the Australian. He never played the next Australian in 56, because he knew, his chance was gone. Heiden won all 5 gold medalls at one Olympics in spee skating, not 4 at one and 1 on another. The triple crown has to be won in one season, not over the course of two or three season. The Grand Slam is a 4 post race, with a regular order. And i predict, of someone plays the USO with 3 majors in hand, it will be a hell of media pressure.

CyBorg
01-23-2008, 12:47 PM
Interesting thread. I was a little too harsh on chaog - it's before I got a chance to read more of his postings.

hoodjem
01-23-2008, 01:41 PM
The so-called "Golden Slam" is a bit of an aberration and not very useful for comparing players, simply because tennis was not an Olympic event for most of its history.

And because even today the Golden Slam can only be had once every four years. Isn't it a late 80s invention?

AndrewD
01-26-2008, 04:21 PM
The Grand Slam was once a non-entity in Tilden's great era, but once someone accomplished it, room was made for this new category.

Non-entity isn't the best choice of words as it can imply that something lacks signficance. A better term is non-existent. During Tilden's era, the 'Grand Slam' did not exist because 1) the term hadn't been coined and 2) it simply wasn't possible for all but the very last part of his amatuer career. Had the French been open to all nationalities prior to 1925 I think there is very little doubt Tilden would have won it. Given his ego I think there's also little doubt he would have attempted to win all four of the world's key events.

Also, the 'Grand Slam' came into being not because someone achieved it but because someone saw it was achieveable.

krosero
01-26-2008, 07:52 PM
Non-entity isn't the best choice of words as it can imply that something lacks signficance. A better term is non-existent. During Tilden's era, the 'Grand Slam' did not exist because 1) the term hadn't been coined and 2) it simply wasn't possible for all but the very last part of his amatuer career. Had the French been open to all nationalities prior to 1925 I think there is very little doubt Tilden would have won it. Given his ego I think there's also little doubt he would have attempted to win all four of the world's key events. Agreed.

Also, the 'Grand Slam' came into being not because someone achieved it but because someone saw it was achieveable.Also agree with this. Maybe a better example here is the Golden Slam. No one went for it because they saw it was possible; as far as I recall, it just happened, or was anticipated as about to happen, and since then we've had the term "Golden Slam" with us -- a term appended to something with very little meaning.