Golden Slams Don't Happen Very Often in Tennis, but 2 Occurred This Year Alone
Photo: German tennis player Steffi Graf playing in the 1988 Wimbledon women's singles tournament.
If an athlete claims victory in all four Grand Slams, otherwise known as tennis's majors — the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open — and also wins gold at the Olympic Games or Paralympic Games in the same year, all in the same event, that person achieves a Golden Slam, or a Golden Grand Slam. It's about as rare as Willy Wonka's golden ticket.
Players Who Have Won, or Almost Won, a Golden Slam
German player Steffi Graf won all four majors and gold at the Olympics in women's singles in 1988. In fact, she's the first player to have ever achieved a Golden Slam. However, American twins Bob and Mike Bryan achieved a non-calendar-year Golden Slam in men's doubles by winning at the Olympics and the US Open in 2012, then the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon in 2013. It's been dubbed the "Bryan Golden Slam."
Graf's 30-plus-year reign as the only person on the true Golden Slam list ended on Sept. 12. Dutch player Diede de Groot became the first athlete in wheelchair tennis to achieve a calendar Golden Slam with her victory in the 2021 US Open women's singles wheelchair final. Previously this year, she brought home singles wins at the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the Paralympics. Her golden victory made her just the second woman in tennis to achieve this accolade.
On the men's side, Australian Dylan Alcott's win in quad singles at the US Open this year made him the first man across tennis disciplines to have won a calendar Golden Slam. Like de Groot, Alcott won at the Paralympics, then claimed titles in all four singles majors in 2021, but he competes in the quad division as opposed to the men's wheelchair category (players with lower-body disabilities compete in the "open" division that's split into women's and men's draws, and those with lower-body and upper-body disabilities compete in the mixed quad division).
Novak Djokovic, representing Serbia, was aiming for a calendar Golden Slam in men's tennis, but a loss at the Tokyo Olympics prevented him from achieving that goal. As for doubles, UK men's wheelchair tennis pair Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid were aiming for a calendar Golden Slam this year as well, but they didn't make it to the gold-medal match at the Paralympics.
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 over the course of their career. Andre Agassi, from the United States, and Spain's Rafael Nadal have won career Golden Slams in men's singles.
Serena and Venus Williams were able to achieve a career Golden Slam in women's doubles with their 1999 French Open, 1999 US Open, 2000 Wimbledon, and 2001 Australian Open titles and their 2000 Olympics gold medal. Serena then went on to claim a singles career Golden Slam between 1999 and 2012, clinching it at the London Olympic Games. She became the first tennis player with career Golden Slams in both singles and doubles. Meanwhile, Alcott secured a career Golden Slam in both quad wheelchair singles and doubles in 2019.
We're eager to see what more golden potential awaits on the courts in years to come.