Powerful Serve; Best Backhand
September 24, 1938: John Donald Budge is the first person to win a Grand Slam in tennis. The term “Grand Slam” refers to winning the four major tennis tournaments in a single year: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. The term was coined by New York Times columnist John Kieran in 1933 when Jack Crawford was one win away from the feat.
The Grand Slam, as defined in one year, has been won by five singles, one junior singles, and three doubles. Steffie Graf not only won all the major tournaments, but also won the Olympic Gold Medal in 1988 making her the only Golden Grand Slam winner. Martina Navratilova won six tournaments in a row, but three were in 1983 and the other three in 1984. Many others have one each of the four main tournaments, but not in the same year.
Don Budge was born in Oakland, California and was the son of a former soccer player. He grew up playing a number of sports. He was tall and slim and his height helped produce one of the most powerful serves of all time. His backhand was also powerful with a touch of topspin added. He grew up playing on hard-court surfaces and had to adjust to grass when he moved east to train for the Davis Cup.
After winning the Grand Slam, Budge moved from amateur status and became a professional tennis player with mostly head-to-head matches. With the advent of the Second World War, Budge joined the US Army Air Force. He spent most of his service time playing exhibition matches for the troops. He injured his shoulder while running an obstacle training course and his tennis game was never again the same. He retired and taught children the game. He died after being involved in an automobile accident.
“Tennis is a perfect combination of violent action taking place in an atmosphere of total tranquility.” – Billie Jean King
“If you see a tennis player who looks as if he is working hard, then that means he isn’t very good.” – Helen Wills Moody
“Why has slamming a ball with a racquet become so obsessive a pleasure for so many of us? It seems clear to me that a primary attraction of the sport is the opportunity it gives to release aggression physically without being arrested for felonious assault.” – Nat Hentoff
“Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” – Heywood Hale Broun
Also on this day, in 1947 Harry Truman did not form the Majestic 12 group to investigate UFOs.