Which Grand Slam Tournament is the Best?
Grand Slam tournament tennis, there is nothing which matches the thrill and drama of the best tennis players on the planet, competing to win the biggest prizes.
The Rod Laver arena. By Steve Collis.
The 4 Grand Slam Tournaments
Young players dream of the moment they will lift the trophy one day.
To win a Grand Slam is the highlight of a tennis players career and to attend one is the dream of every tennis fan, but the long debate about which Grand Slam is best rages on.
So, let’s look at each of them and attempt to bring an end to this debate.
To answer this question, we first need to accept there are two perspectives to this argument. The player’s perspective and the fans’ perspective.
Roger Federer with the Wimbledon trophy from 2017. By Andrea-Enrico.
The Slams from a players view
Looking at the question from a player point of view, it is obviously difficult for current players to give an opinion.
Sponsors are paying big money to have their name featured in the press conference room, on the tennis court and on the players clothing. So the players are not about to rank a tournament as being the worst. However, that’s not to say they do not have their favourite, it’s just an opinion which is kept close to their chest.
Ultimately, the success a player has enjoyed or a bad moment they have endured will usually define how they feel about a tournament.
Ask Rafael Nadal which Grand Slam tournament he thinks is the best and surely, he will see the French Open. On the other hand ask Billie Jean King and she is likely to say Wimbledon, having won it six times.
However, looking from the outside, it’s possible to make a more objective view on which Grand Slam tournament is the best.
Billie Jean King with Wimbledon 1970 plate. By InSapphoWeTrust.
The Fan’s Point of View
The Aus Open Slam
The Australian Open is the first Grand Slam of the season and this gets people excited. Whichever Grand Slam comes first, is always going to have a small advantage because of the increased anticipation surrounding the start of a new tennis season. This adds to the buzz of the Australian Open.
Serena Williams. By Doha Stadium Plus Qatar.
The fans are good at the Australian Open, whether it be a cheering squad for their own players or humorous mocking of their opponent. There is always a big atmosphere and that’s a key ingredient of a successful Grand Slam tournament.
Then there is the fluctuating nature of the tournament itself. No female player has won three in a row since Martina Hingis in 1999. Only Novak Djokovic has achieved that feat in the open era of the men’s event.
The same cannot be said at the French Open and Wimbledon, where some players have enjoyed spells of extended dominance.
Martina Hingis. By tatiana.
The Roland Garros Slam
The second Grand Slam of the season is the French Open at Roland Garros, in Paris. The red clay courts give this tournament a special feeling.
Ask any player, other than Rafael Nadal, which Grand Slam tournament is the most difficult to win and many will say the French Open.
Rafa Nadal at the Roland Garros. By François GOGLINS.
It is the most physically demanding Grand Slam and this can lead to long, gruelling matches. The feel of the tournament is one of intimacy and French culture and passion is predominant, with shouts of “Allez” coming from the crowd.
Philippe-Chatrier Court, with its steep, square stands comes alive during close matches and the volume cascades down to the tennis court, creating a fantastic atmosphere. However, for many players, this is the Grand Slam which got away.
Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters and Stefan Edberg are tennis legends but the French Open escaped them. If you want to see the top players being pushed to the limit, Roland Garros is the perfect Grand Slam for you.
Following the French Open, there is a quick turnaround to the short grass court season and Wimbledon. Considered by many to be the most prestigious Grand Slam tournament, Wimbledon is contested at the All England Club in London.
Gabi Muguruza at Wimbledon 2017 that she won. By Carine06.
History and culture oozes out of this tournament, being the oldest of the four. There are no sponsorship inside the courts or coloured clothing to be worn by players. Wimbledon has retained much of its charm throughout the years.
The grass surface is quick and makes for numerous short and exciting points, with some of the best matches in living memory taking place at Wimbledon.
Who can forget the 2008 men’s final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal? Often voted as the greatest men’s match ever played and 1988 ladies final between Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova, with the young German dethroning the long-time queen of Wimbledon.
This is one of the top matches in the recent history of the women’s game. For those who want to be part of a ‘I was there’ moment, Wimbledon serves up more than its fair share.
The US Open Slam
The final Grand Slam of the year is the US Open, played at Flushing Meadows, New York. The US Open has a reputation for producing a rowdy crowd, which can be great fun or irritating, depending on which player you are supporting.
However, the US Open is home to the largest tennis stadium in the world. The Arthur Ashe stadium, complete with retractable roof, holds 23,200 people, meaning more fans can enjoy the big matches live.
Novak Djokovic. By Marianne Bevis.
In recent years, the US Open has seen a great deal of unpredictability. There were three different winners of the women’s singles between 2014 and 2016 and five different winners of the men’s singles between 2012 and 2016.
If you are looking to attend a Grand Slam which can produce a diverse range of winners, the US Open is a great choice and is the only Grand Slam where a tie-break is used in the deciding set of matches. With matches often running late into the night, more fans have an opportunity to watch and this creates a brilliant atmosphere.
Grand Slam tournament prize money and television ratings
Slam Prize money
In terms of player prize money, the US Open leads the way with a total purse of just over $46 million, some $5 million more than Wimbledon.
In terms of boosting the bank account as a player, you would want to win the US Open. The singles winner receives $3.5 million, a cool $500,000 more than the next best, which is Wimbledon.
One of the courts in Wimbledon. By Leon Brocard.
Looking at television ratings, it is difficult to judge which Grand Slam tournament is getting the most viewers. For example, the Australian Open is the least watched Grand Slam in the USA but with matches being played throughout the night, this is nothing to do with people not wanting to watch the tournament. It’s a simple case of geography.
So which Grand Slam Tournament is the best?
Having looked at each Grand Slam, they are clearly unique and that is what makes all four of them special. If they were identical in terms of playing surface, crowd involvement, stadium design and etiquette, it would make for a very similar feel to the year of tennis.
The added slam experience
As it is, the differences in playing surface, with the clay of Roland Garros, grass of Wimbledon and hard courts of Australia and the US, make for fantastic spectacles.
The various ways the fans get involved in matches and even the threat of rain in stadiums without a roof, all add to the experience and exclusiveness of each tournament.
Cheering up Roger Federer to another victory.
As the years go by, every Grand Slam tournament evolves and improves. They are all different and it’s the differences which makes each of them great and a special occasion.
To answer the question of which Grand Slam tournament is the best and pick one above the other is difficult and very much a personal preference. However, based on tradition, exclusivity, fast play, great matches and the obvious feeling players and fans hold for the tournament, Wimbledon must be considered the best Grand Slam tournament overall.