View Full Version : Should the World Hardcourt (clay) Championship be regarded as a major?

05-24-2009, 05:22 PM
The World Hardcourt * championship was played in France (exception 1 year in Brussels) from 1912 to 1923 (skipped the War years though).

* Actually Clay - that is just what they called Clay in those days.

It was open not just to French Players but any amateurs.


The true French Open didn't start until 1925, because it wasn't open to Non-French residents before hand. However, the World HardCourt championship was really the Proto-French Open. It had deep fields with great players playing.

My view is that this should either be regarded as the French Open or at least as a Major title on par with the other 'Grand Slam' titles.

It had amongst its winners - Tony Wilding, Bill Tilden, Otto Froitzheim, Henri Cochet, William Johnston ie top players.

Suzanne Lenglen won it 5 times. From the Wikipedia article on Lenglen:

"The World Hard Court Championships (WHCC), the official clay court world championships, were held in Paris (except for one year in Brussels) beginning in 1912 and lasting through 1923. Unlike the pre-1925 French Championships, the WHCC was open to all nationalities. Therefore, the WHCC is the truer forerunner of the open-to-all-nationalities French Championships that began in 1925. For purposes of determining the total number of Grand Slam titles won by Lenglen, the WHCC is used for 1914 and 1920 through 1923 instead of the closed-to-foreigners French Championships for those years"

I agree wholeheartedly with these comments.

Implications: You'd have Bill Tilden credited with a French Open equivalent (he won this event in 1921) whereas he doesn't at the moment. Tony Wilding would be credited with two more majors.

What do people think? Should the World Hard Court (Clay) Championships be regarded as a major or even more an actual Grand Slam title?

05-24-2009, 05:45 PM
Great post! And my answer to your question will be a resounding yes...

05-24-2009, 06:22 PM
Yes. I am convinced.

07-18-2010, 02:43 AM
I don't know whether the World Hard Court Championships could be regarded as a major. I see it more as a precursor to the French Championships, which only really got off the ground in 1925.

I think some people see the World Hard Court Championships as a major partly because it was held in Paris (with one sojourn in Brussels). However, other tournaments on the European Continent attracted a lot of the top players for certain periods, e.g. the Bad Homburg tournament in Germany and the German Championships as well as the French Riviera tournaments in places like Nice (South of French Championships), Cannes (Championships of Cannes) and Menton (Riviera Championships).

The French Riviera tournaments, which often attracted the Doherty brothers, for example, during their peak years (circa 1897-1906) all pre-date the French Championships, first held in 1925, by around 25 years, and were all open to both French and overseas players.

A lot of the draws for these tournaments can now be found here: www.tennisarchives.com

07-18-2010, 12:58 PM
Except for its first year (1912) it was regarded by the ILTF as a major. It designated 3 Tournaments as World championships starting in 1913 - the World Hardcourt Championships (Clay), Wimbledon (Grass), the World Covered Court Championship (Indoor). That year Anthony Wilding won the 'Grand Slam' of world championships (I put it in inverted commas because I don't intend to use it in the same sense as the Grand Slam today - however, it was a Grand Slam of sorts), winning all 3.

That it was regarded as a Major at the time is clear, what isn't clear - and the reason I started the thread is, why isn't it regarded by many as a major now? After all the Majors of Golf were different in those times past than they are now - but nobody says that Bobby Jones' Grand Slam isn't a true Grand Slam anymore because it isn't the same as the Major tournaments today.

The current tennis Grand Slam tournaments weren't settled until around 1925-1927 period, hence we should take the ILTF at its word when it designated the tournament as a 'World Championship'. If that isn't a Major what is?

Why does this matter? Well for one thing it says that Tilden, who won the World Hardcourt championship has one more Major (from 1921 winning this tournament) than is normally listed for him. And Anthony Wilding has 3 more (the World Hardcourt championship 1913, 1914 and the World Covered Court Championship 1914) than is normally attributed to him.

07-18-2010, 01:48 PM
You have a point, timnz. This hindsight redesignation of what was and wasn't a major is similar to how the IOC retroactively declared that the 1906 Olympic games was not an Olympic games despite the fact that when it was held it was 100% regarded as an Olympiad as much as any of the other ones (nowadays it doesn't count as an Olympic games and even the medals were retroactively "deleted" from the Olympic medal table!

I hate this kind of ridiculous historical revisionism in the name of "streamlining" and "clarifying" history. As if history needs total rearrangement and tidying up like a Martha Stewart/Bree van de Kamp kitchen.

07-18-2010, 06:04 PM
Australasian Championships (now the Australian Open) began in 1905 - however, wasn't recognized by the ILTF as a Major until 1924.

The French Championships didn't become recognized as a Major until 1925 when it was opened to all players (beforehand it was only open to members of French Clubs).

The US championships is much more difficult to work out when it became a major - it certainly was regarded as such by 1933 - but when earlier - who knows. Perhaps as early as the 1890's or 1900's with great players such as Doherty and Larned winning it.

Wimbledon was always recognized as a major.

07-19-2010, 01:08 AM
I think none of them were regarded as a major simply cuz the concept didn't exist. The idea of Grand Slam is actually invented in Golf and some guy copied that and introduced it in tennis, I think sometime after the end of the first world war.

Before that all the different countries had their 'national championships' and that was it! There simply were no slams.

07-19-2010, 01:42 AM
Wilding won the 3 world championships in 1913. There were many other national championships at the time eg the German Championship - but these 3only were designated by the ILTF as World Championships - hence they were major.

07-19-2010, 01:47 AM
Interesting question. But regardless of linguistic twists it shows, that Tilden was a versatile player. I recall discussions after the Sampras' era, in which many cited Tilden as a predecessor of Sampras, with a hole in his resume (clay). In fact, Tilden never had this hole. He won the World Hard court (i think the only time he entered it) plus the US clay court title 8 times. And in the late 20s reached 2 further RG finals.