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Aside from synchronized swimming (now called artistic swimming in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics) and figure skating, tennis is one sport I enjoy as a spectator.
But since televised events for the first two sports are few and far between, it is tennis that I get to see regularly, especially Grand Slam tournaments.
For non-tennis fans, the Australian Open, French Open (Roland Garros), Wimbledon Championships, and the US Open make up the Grand Slam events. While there are many other tournaments played all-year round, to win any of these four is what every tennis player aspires for.
It is Wimbledon of the All-England Lawn Tennis Club that pioneered tennis tournaments, and while the three other events have become equally prestigious over time, it is still the tournament played on grass that is the ultimate championship.
Several players, both men and women, have achieved feats of winning one Slam multiple times, and even more astounding, winning all four slams more than once.
And while in recent years it's become rare for anyone to win more than one or two slams in a calendar year, it has been achieved in the past.
To win all four grand slams in one year is a dream, but rarely been accomplished. And when it's an Olympic year, like it is now (well it was supposed to be last year) there is another win that's equally important.
Tennis is among the sports disciplines being contested in Tokyo. And the professional tennis players are tapped to represent their respective countries.
Win an Olympic gold and it's almost like winning a Slam, except that you're not just playing for yourself, but for country as well.
If by some stroke of luck you happen to win all four Grand Slams and snag a gold medal in the Olympics, the player is said to have completed the "Golden Slam," a really impressive feat.
To date, only one player has ever achieved this rare feat - the German tennis superstar, Steffi Graf in 1988.
Graf, one of the most accomplished tennis players of all time, has captured a total of 22 Grand Slams in her career, winning all slams at least four times.
Why is winning all four tournaments such a triumph and a dream? Every slam is played on a different surface. Wimbledon, the grandfather of all tennis slams is on grass; Roland Garros is on clay, while the Australian and US Opens are on hard courts.
While the latter two are similar surfaces, there is still a difference in terms of speed with which the balls rebound. So, while a player may win several times in Australia, it does not guarantee success at the US Open.
Typically, someone adept on grass will not be as excellent on clay because they are totally opposite surfaces. The balls are fastest on grass and slowest on clay.
So, Graf distinguished herself by being both competent in grass and clay, although she's won more on Wimbledon (7) than in the French Open (6). But adjusting to very different surfaces in a span of four weeks is awesome in itself but can also take its toll on the knees and be a cause for injuries.
After 17 years as a professional tennis player, Graf retired in 1999, the same year she won her last Grand Slam title in Roland Garros in a most enjoyable finals game against the much younger Martina Hingis.
In spite her many accomplishments in the sport, life after retirement is totally removed from tennis. However, she did marry fellow tennis superstar Andre Agassi, with whom she has two grown children.
In all the years that I've followed her career, I've never heard Graf obsess about winning or setting records. She just played her best and displayed excellence on court.
Which is why it rankles that Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic was so focused on reaching that goal of completing the rare Golden Slam this year.
Yes, since he's already won the first three slams (Australian, French and Wimbledon) this year, he was the only player with the fighting chance to achieve that. Win the US Open and he would make history.
But then with the Olympics moved from 2020 to 2021, he set his sights on an even bigger achievement - a Golden Slam.
Rarely do I hear other players, even the best like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, ever talk of breaking records or making history in the way Djokovic has.