Tennis is a world-renowned and highly lucrative sporting event. There are eight major tennis tournaments and four of which constitute the Grand Slams. Each of them has a spectacular history, tradition, and uniqueness. Here’s a concise overview of these tournaments and some of the biggest names in the tennis industry.
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Top 8 Major Tennis Tournaments
1. US Open
The US Open is the most popular professional hardcourt US tennis tournament. It was first held in August 1881 as the US National Championship, and only men competed. Six years after, the first women’s tournament was held in September 1887.
The tournament consists of five major events: men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. The tournament also includes events for seniors, juniors, and wheelchairs.
Each year, the US Open is played in late August and early September for over two weeks. Since 1978, all final tournaments have been hosted in Queens, New York.
Among all the tennis tournaments, it is widely regarded as the oldest and most prestigious. It was first held in 1877 and is the only tennis event played on outdoor grass courts at the All England Club, Wimbledon, London.
Every year, it starts in late June and early July for 14 days. It consists of five main events, four junior events, and seven invitation events.
Wimbledon is quite known for its traditions. Tennis players must adhere to the all-white or nearly all-white dress code. Quite interestingly, strawberries and cream are usually eaten at the tournament.
3. Australian Open
This is the first Grand Slam of the year. It was first held in 1905. It has been played on a hard court surface since 1988. It is often referred to as the “Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific.”
The tournament starts every fortnight of January at Melbourne Park, Melbourne. It consists of men’s and women’s tournaments, junior’s tournaments; and wheelchair, legends, and exhibition events.
In recent years, Novak Djokovic has been dominating this tournament. In 2020, it made history by having the highest number of spectators among all the biggest tennis tournaments in the world.
4. French Open
It’s the only major tennis tournament that is played on an outdoor clay court. It was formerly known as the French Championships and was first established in 1891. It is usually held in late May to early June at the State Roland Garros in Paris, France.
The most notable athlete in this event is Rafael Nadal, who has won the most in this event, with 13 titles. The tournament also features exciting elements, including the terrific view of Paris, its marvelous culture, upscale shopping centers, and superb restaurants and hotels.
5. BNP Paribas Open
BNP Paribas Open is also called the Indian Wells Masters and the WTA Indian Wells Open. It is an annual tennis tournament that starts in early March and is held at the stunning Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California, United States. The location has the second-largest tennis stadium in the world.
BNP is one of the largest tennis tournaments for both men and women tours. It is played on hardcourt. Outside the four major tennis tournaments, it’s quite famous and highly attended by many fans. It’s no wonder because it hosts the top players of the world.
6. WTA Finals
It’s a tournament of the Women’s Tennis Association played annually at the end of the season for the top tennis players. It consists of eight single players divided into two round-robin groups and eight doubles teams as a group-stage or round-robin format, followed by the semi-finals and finals.
The WTA Finals is scheduled to take place in Shenzhen, China, until 2028. In 2019, the organization made sports history by giving the biggest reward, which was $4.75 million. It was Ashley Barty who walked away with it. WTA Finals isn’t one of the grand slams, but it’s very famous.
7. ATP Finals
The ATP Finals is popularly known as the “fifth grand slam”. This was first held in 1970. It is played annually every November at O2 Stadium in London. In 2021, it will take place at the Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy.
Like the WTA, eight single players are divided into two round-robin groups and eight doubles teams as a group-stage or round-robin format, followed by the semi-finals and finals.
ATP Finals has a different format than the major tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon Open, and US Open) because it uses a knock-out or bracket system.
8. Summer Games Tennis Tournament
This major tennis event first started in 1896 but went into hiatus in 1924 until 1988. The playing surface of the tennis court varies between Olympic Games.
There were times when this major tournament was played in hard, grass, and clay courts. The changing playing surface can pose an advantage or disadvantage to the players. Steffi Graf has won a gold medal in the Olympics and four Grand Slams in the same year.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan, was moved from July 23 to August 8, 2021. You may check tennis schedules here.
The most prestigious tennis tournament is Wimbledon. It’s not surprising as Wimbledon is the oldest and most traditional tennis event among all the tennis tournaments. It hosted the best players in the world and the most incredible matches in history. If you’re a devoted tennis fan, you don’t want to miss this out.
This tournament is also quite known for its long-standing formalities, exclusivity, and attendance of royalties and high-class celebrities.
As of 2020:
- Roger Federer has won the most victories in major tennis tournaments, especially the US Open, Wimbledon, and ATP. He is regarded as the greatest professional tennis athlete in the world.
- Novak Djokovic has won the most tournaments at the Australian Open.
- Rafael Nadal has won the most French Open tournaments.
- Andre Agassi is the only man who won the “Career Super Slam”- all four major tournaments, plus the Olympic gold medal and one title at the ATP Tour World in a single year.
- Serena Williams has the most victories in Grand Slam tennis tournaments by a professional female tennis athlete.
- Martina Navratilova has won the most Wimbledon tournaments and WTA finals among the female professional players.
- Which tennis tournament has the biggest prize money?
Among all the tennis tournaments, the record of the biggest prize money in a tennis tournament goes to the U.S. Open in 2019. The tournament’s total purse was over $57 million. The winner brought home $3.85 million for both men and women. We did an exclusive comparison between Williams and Federer here.
Serena Williams is the wealthiest female top tennis athlete. She is highly-revered by many fans around the world. Quite impressively, she has won 23 grand slam tournaments as of 2020, which outnumbered the wins of Chris Evert. Her total career winnings are estimated to be over $92.7 million.
Best Major Tennis Tournaments to Attend - Final Thoughts
Tennis enthusiasts and avid tennis fans would want to attend all the major tennis tournaments, especially the grand slam tournaments: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open.
French Open is the best event to spectate if you prefer a battle of endurance. There’s Wimbledon if you want the most esteemed and traditional event.
Tennis tournament tickets aren’t cheap, but if you get to see your most favorite professional tennis players on the court and other top tennis contenders, it’s going to be worth it. Your choice of which tennis tournaments to attend boils down to personal preference and convenience.
If you’re a beginner spectator, learn how to keep score in tennis here.