Nancye Wynne

70 Years Ago Today – The Grand Slam Is Born

It was 70 years ago today – September 24, 1938  – that the “Grand Slam” was born as Don Budge completed the first sweep of all four major tennis championships in a single calendar year at the 1937 U.S. Championships. The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, due out November 1, On This Day In Tennis History ($19.95, New Chapter Press, that outlines the historic occasion.

September 24

1938 – Don Budge achieves the first “Grand Slam” of tennis, when he defeats doubles partner and Davis Cup teammate Gene Mako 6-3, 6-8, 6-2, 6-1 in the final of the U.S. Championships at Forest Hills. At the beginning of the year, Budge made a sweep of all four major titles his secret goal for the year and one by one claimed all four tournament goals – the Australian Championships in January, the French Championships in June, Wimbledon in July and finally, the U.S. Championships. Writes Allison Danzig of The New York Times of the final “The book was closed yesterday on the greatest record of success ever compiled by a lawn tennis player in one season of national and international championships competition.” Mako, who also wins the U.S. doubles title with Budge, was the only player to win a set from Budge in the tournament. Their final is played in great spirits and with a high quality of play, despite the fact that many of the crowd of 12,000 is certain that Budge, the overwhelming favorite, would easily win the match. Writes Danzig, “The play was animated with friendly manifestations across the net whose contagion was communicated to the gallery, particularly in the third set when the crowd was roaring with mirth as the doubles champions trapped each other repeatedly with drop shots. But there was no holding back on either side and there was no trace of amiability in the scorching forehand drives with which Mako caught Budge in faulty position inside the baseline or the murderous backhand and volcanic service which Budge turned loose.” In the women’s final, Alice Marble defeats Australia’s Nancye Wynne 6-0, 6-3.