Grand Slam Don Baj
American John Donald Budge became the first tennis player who managed to win all the Grand Slam tournaments in one season. In the future, only a few athletes succeeded in the same achievement.
For the uninitiated word “Grand Slam” in relation to tennis they sound mysterious. But they are familiar to fans of the card game – the bridge and mean – “a powerful blow.” This expression came to tennis precisely from the cards, when the American journalist Alain Danzig in 1938 compared the first-ever victory of his compatriot Don Badge in the singles category with all the four most prestigious tournaments of the year with the “big helmet” of the bridge. A good comparison of the journalist was immediately picked up, and it quickly became standard. And the Wimbledon tournament and the open championships of the USA, France and Australia were considered the most prestigious in the world of tennis long before that. Winning one season in each of them is a sporting feat if only because all these tournaments are different: tennis players have to play on different surfaces, adapting to them again.
The annual Grand Slam series begins with the Australian Open, starting in January. It was first held in 1908, and exactly 80 years later a special hard coating appeared on the Melbourne courts, consisting of several layers of polyurethane and fiberglass, laid on asphalt. Such a coating is very durable and can be used in any weather. However, the first winner of the “Grand Slam” Don Budge in 1938 spoke on the grass court.
The second Grand Slam tournament is the French Open, always taking place on red ground. The history of this tournament began in 1891, but it became open to foreign tennis players only in 1925. The French Open has another name – Roland Garros. Immediately after him, on the third Monday of June, the third Grand Slam tournament starts in England – the famous Wimbledon, first held back in 1877. In conservative England, tennis players still play on the grass.
And finally, in late August – early September, the US Open is held. In the days of Don Bug, American courts were also grassy, but now they have a hard coating, consisting of synthetics laid on concrete.
John Donald Budge, who was often called simply Don Budge, who first accomplished a sporting feat, having won all four of these tournaments, was born in 1915. He was the son of a Scotsman who emigrated to the United States, a former professional football player. Don himself would like to become a footballer, but in the United States, European football was not yet honored at that time, and he showed his abilities for a tennis racket very early. When he was 11 years old, Don very easily defeated all his rivals in the youth championship of California.
By 1933, Budge was already the champion of the United States in the age category under 18 years. Two years later, he first performed at the Wimbledon tournament, where he reached the semifinals, in which he lost to the famous German tennis player Gottfried von Krammu. But 1937 was an extremely successful year for Don Baj. Firstly, together with the US team, he won the Davis Cup – a tournament for national teams. In the semifinals, Don Budge met the same von Kramm, taking a convincing revenge from him.
Secondly, in the same year, Budge won the Wimbledon tournament in doubles. Then, having looked at the statistics of all four prestigious tennis tournaments, he suddenly discovered that no one had managed to win at all in one year. And Budge decided that he would certainly be the first. In any case, later he himself said that it was exactly so, although, perhaps, he simply made fun of the gullible …
However, in the following year 1938, all his rivals were not up to jokes. In January, going to Adelaide, he easily reached the finals of the Australian Open, where he defeated Australian John Bromwich in three sets. In all his meetings, he lost only one set. His biggest opponent, by the admission of Baj, was the terrible Australian heat, when the temperature rose to plus 38 degrees.
In June, Don Budge, without losing a single set, became the winner of the French Open. Budge performed just as brilliantly at the Wimbledon tournament, where the Englishman Bunny Austin defeated in the singles final. By the way, it was this tennis player who was the first to decide to go on the court in shorts instead of the white trousers in which it was customary to play before. In addition, at Wimbledon, Budge won both doubles with J. Meiko and mixed – with tennis player A. Marble.
At the US Open, Budge also defeated one opponent after another, with the same score 3-0, without losing to anyone else. In the final, Badja was expected by his friend, Gene Meiko. Badge more than once happened to play with him in doubles. On the eve of the final, the friends agreed to spend the whole day together, observing the same schedule. But in the match, Budge was stronger. He won in the first set – 6: 3, lost in the second – 6: 8 and won in the next two – 6: 2 and 6: 1.