Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



The Ten Greatest Players Never to Win the French Open 5

Posted on May 27, 2011 by JA Allen

The French Open is the only major played on clay.

Regarded by many players as the most difficult grand slam to win, the first French Open was held in 1891. But it was not until 1925 that the tournament moved to the grounds of Stade Roland Garros.

The French Open is the only major still played on clay.

Playing tennis on clay was once deemed a special art. Roland Garros became the arena for clay court specialists.

Even today’s players utilize a particular skill set to do well on the clay court surface––which not only slows down the ball but can produce a high bounce.

It takes great patience, but learning to play on clay also provides a good foundation for doing well on all surfaces.

Winning in Paris is essential to winning a grand slam. Very often, lack of success at Stade Roland Garros has kept many a player from winning that elusive fourth major.

Few players have won a grand slam––all four majors in a calendar year. For the men, there was Don Budge in 1938 and Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969.

For the ladies, Maureen Connolly Brinker won in 1953, Margaret Court in 1970 and Steffi Graf in 1988. These three ladies all won calendar year grand slams.

Additionally, many players have won a career slam––winning at all venues during the course of a tennis player’s career.

The men who have won career slams are Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

For the ladies the career slam belongs to Maureen Connolly Brinker, Doris Hart, Shirley Fry Irvin, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams.

Many great players have been stopped because they could not negotiate the clay.  Following are the top 10 players who could never find a way to win that elusive French Open title.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Drew Pearson: Mr. Clutch
      August 7, 2021 | 6:59 pm

      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

      During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

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