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Winning a Grand Slam is the moment when a tennis player can truly say “I’ve made it”. Whether it is on the green grass at Centre Court at Wimbledon, on the clay in Paris, or on the hard courts of Melbourne and New York, after a fortnight of sweat, toil, bruises and knocks, there can be very few other sporting triumphs that provide an individual with such satisfaction. So let’s take a look at who has won the most Grand Slams.
Most Grand Slams – Men
Before the start of the 2023 Australian Open, there had been 152 Men’s Grand Slam champions across 479 tournaments. Top of the list is Spain’s Rafael Nadal who won his 22nd title when he beat Norway’s Casper Rudd in straight sets at the French Open in 2022. But, hot on his heels is the 35 year old Serb, Novak Djokovic, who took his tally to 21 when he won at Wimbledon for the seventh time in his career in July 2022. And only one Grand Slam behind Djokovic, comes the now retired Roger Federer who combined elegance, grace and won the hearts of tennis fans across the globe with victories at all four majors spanning from 2003 – 2018.
Nadal, Djokovic and Federer are the only players with 20+ titles and there is a big gap to Pete Sampras (14) and Roy Emerson (12) to make up the rest of the top five.
The youngest male player to win one of the four showpiece events remains Michael Chang who triumphed in Paris in 1989 at a very youthful 17 years and three months. However, in spite of all that promise and many pundits expecting him to go on and win the most grand slams, that was to be it.
Most Grand Slams – Women
As with the men’s game, there are only three players to have won 20+ Women’s Grand Slams. Australia’s Margaret Court, who won at least three titles at each of the four majors, tops the list with 24. She dominated women’s tennis throughout the 1960s but also added eight more titles in the early 1970s!
Serena Williams, who announced her retirement from the game after the 2022 US Open, ended her career only one Grand Slam away from equaling Court’s figure. Her final victory was at the 2017 Australian Open – that win moved her one title above Germany’s Steffi Graf who succeeded in Melbourne, Paris, Wimbledon and New York from 1988 – 1999.
America’s Helen Wills Moody, who retired in 1938, picked up four French Open, eight Wimbledon and seven US Open titles, but never played in Melbourne. She was a fantastic player who won 180 matches in a row from 1927 – 1933, and maybe if she had entered a few Australian Opens, she would be top of the women’s list.
Over The Last Five Years
But let’s zoom in on the most recent years of Grand Slams. Some of these players are on their way out from the top of the game whereas others are enjoying their first view from the top.
Men’s Grand Slam Winners 2018 – 2022
Although Rafael Nadal leads the overall list, it is second placed Novak Djokovic who has won the most grand slams over recent years. Since 2018, Djokovic leads Nadal 9-6, but it is fair to say that the pair have dominated the scene winning all but four of the titles in that period. In fact, from the French Open in 2018 until the same tournament in 2020, no other player won a Grand Slam. Djokovic very nearly held all four trophies at the same time but was stopped by Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 US Open Final. Roger Federer won his final Grand Slam in 2018 with Dominic Thiem, Medvedev and Carlos Alcaraz each winning their first major in New York from 2020 – 2022.
Women’s Grand Slam Winners 2018 – 2022
Although men’s tennis has been dominated by the same faces, the same can not be said for the women’s game where we have seen six players win their first and only Grand Slam titles. The most dominant player from 2018 onwards has been Japan’s Naomi Osaka who won in New York in 2018 and 2020, and in Melbourne in 2019 and 2021. Australia’s Ash Barty and Poland’s Iga Swiatek won three titles each with Swiatek winning in Paris and New York over the last 12 months. Angelique Kerber also deserves a mention after securing her third and final crown at Wimbledon in 2018, with Simona Halep picking up her two titles in 2018 and 2019.
Australian Open Winners
As we are now officially into the ‘business end’ of the proceedings in Melbourne, let’s remind ourselves of who are the serial winners and one-time-wonders over the years down-under.
The 2022 tournament was the first in three years that was not won by Novak Djokovic, but that only tells half the story. The nine-times Australian Open champion was initially allowed into the country to prepare for the tournament before being sensationally deported after the government decided to cancel his visa. With the Serb no longer in the draw, Rafael Nadal went all the way and won his second title in Melbourne after losing his four previous finals.
Djokovic, who is into the semi-finals in this year’s event, has won nine Australian Opens with Roger Federer (6) his nearest challenger.
50 Australian Men have held the famous trophy aloft in front of their home supporters, but the last time was in 1976 when Mark Edmondson won. I make that 47 years of hurt!
Margaret Smith holds the record for number of wins in Melbourne with seven in the amateur era and four in the open era. Serena Williams, with all of her seven coming from 2003 – 2017, holds the record for the most Grand Slams in Australia in the open era.
44 Australian Women have won their home Grand Slam with 25 victors coming from America and another five from Germany. The last time a British player won the title in the men’s or the women’s draw, was Virginia Wade back in 1972.
So let’s give it up for Margaret Smith, the 11 time winner in Melbourne and 24 titles in total. She truly is the player who has won the most grand slams but Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are both still in the hunt for more.
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