Tennis fans are often bombarded with the term "open era." It's frequently encountered when reading articles about tennis or watching tennis on television.
So what really is the "open era?" Why is it significant to the history of tennis?
Here is some noteworthy information about the open era of tennis:
1. The open era began in 1968, and the French Open that year was the first Grand Slam under the new rules. The distinction has to do with what players were allowed to play in the Grand Slam events, the showcase events in tennis. Tennis was seen as a gentleman's game, and professionals were looked upon as mercenaries. Players who had turned pro were not allowed to compete in the Grand Slam events prior to 1968. Players were then faced with the difficult decision of using their skills to earn a living or maintaining their eligibility for the Grand Slam tournaments (and some other big events). Reason finally prevailed, and, in the open era, the Slams have featured the very best players, whether amateur or professional.
2. Ken Rosewall of Australia and Nancy Richey of the U.S. were the first Grand Slam singles champions of the open era. Rosewall won eight Slams total, four in the open era. Richey, who had already won the Australian Open the previous year, did not win any other Slams after the French Open in 1968.
3. Fifty-one different men have won a Grand Slam singles title in the open era. The names in this prestigious list range from the one-hit wonders like Michael Chang (1989 French Open) and Goran Ivanisevic (2001 Wimbledon) to all-time greats Roger Federer (17 Slams), Pete Sampras (14 Slams) and Rafael Nadal (11 Slams).
4. Rod Laver of Australia, who won 11 Slams total, is the only man to have turned in a Grand Slam (winning all four Grand Slam singles titles in the same calendar year) in the open era. Laver also won a Grand Slam in 1962. Several players in recent years have come close by winning three of the four majors in a year. Rafael Nadal (2010), Novak Djokovic (2011) and Roger Federer (2004, 2006 and 2007) all came close to the coveted Grand Slam.
5. Steffi Graf of Germany may have turned in the greatest season ever in the open era. In 1988, Fraulein Forehand won all four Grand Slam singles titles (just four of her career total of 22). For good measure, she won the first Olympic singles title at the 1988 Seoul Games for a one-of-a-kind Golden Slam. Margaret Court of Australia also produced a Grand Slam in 1970.
Brad Boeker has been a fan of professional tennis since the 1970s. He coaches high school tennis in Illinois.
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