Professional tennis tournaments are divided into multiple tiers depending upon the ranking points they offer.
In men’s tennis, the lowest tiers of these tournaments are called the ATP 250 events. These are followed by ATP 500 event. Next come the ATP 1000 or the Masters events.
In women’s tennis the lowest tiers of professional tournaments are called the WTA International. This is followed by WTA Premier and WTA Premier 5 events.
The tournaments that form the highest echelons in both men’s and women’s tennis are called the slams. There are four tournaments that fall in this category: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. Each of these tournaments offer 2000 points to the winner.
The Australian Open is the first slam that is played in a season. It is held in the month of January and is played at the Melbourne Park in Melbourne. The tournament is played on outdoor hard courts. The tournament was founded in 1905 and was previously played on grass courts.
The next slam scheduled in a tennis season is the French Open, a.k.a. Roland Garros. It is played on clay courts and is held in late May. The tournament began in 1891 and is till date the largest clay court tennis event in the world. It is held at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris.
In July, the world witnesses the most prestigious slam event on the tennis circuit. This grass court event is Wimbledon, the world’s oldest tennis tournament. It was founded in 1877 and has been played at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club since then. The event is notable for upholding its traditional values which involves white color coded uniform for the players, referring players as “Gentlemen” and “Ladies,” strict testing of the ball boys and girls, etc.
The final slam of the season is the US Open which started in 1881. The US Open is a hard court event which was previously played on grass courts and clay courts as well. The tournament is played in the late August early September time period. The current venue for the event is the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre.
A player who wins all four events in a single calendar year completes a “Grand Slam.” However, in modern times, people often tend to make the mistake of referring even a single slam win as a grand slam victory. The slams are also called as “Majors.” A player who is able to win each slam at least once in his/her entire career is said to have completed a “Career Slam.” If a player wins all four slams and the Olympics Gold Medal, he or she is said to have completed the “Golden Slam.” Additionally, if a player wins all the slams in the singles, doubles and mixed doubles category across his or her career, then they have completed a “Boxed Set.”
A slam match is a best-of-5 sets for the men and best-of-3 sets for the women. The mixed doubles are played as best-of-3 sets matches. The slams also have a wheelchair draw, that see players with upper and/or lower limbs disabilities play in wheelchairs.
The four majors in the tennis circuit are often taken as a standard to determine the greatest player of all time. This is also because the slams test a player’s fatigue level, stamina, endurance, resilience and consistency and adaptability. In order to win a slam, a player needs to seven matches in a row that he or she plays across a fortnight. Thus, a player capable of completing the grand slam or a career slam is usually seen with high regards in the tennis world and its history books.