The calendar Grand Slam is one of the rarest and most difficult achievements in tennis. Winning all 4 majors back to back in the same year takes great consistency, fitness, and extreme skills. Only 3 players have been able to do so in more than 5 decades of the Open Era. Margaret Court of Australia registered this illustrious achievement exactly 50 years ago in 1970. Let’s rewind in tennis memory lanes and recall the most extraordinary year of her great career. Let’s have a re-look at Margaret Court’s Calendar Grand Slam.
Dominant at Home
Margaret Court’s journey to the Calendar Grand Slam started at her home slam of the Australian Open. The Aussie starlet was then world number 1 and hence the top seed in the tournament. After receiving a bye in the first round she raced through the subsequent matches. Court handed bagels to her opponents. Margaret Court then met fellow Aussie player Evonne Goolagong on the quarterfinal match. It was expected to be a tough contest but Court looked in great form, putting aside her formidable rival in straight sets in a relatively easy manner.
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Margaret Court met another fellow countrywoman Karen Kranzcke in the semi-finals. The top seed ever defeated her with similar ease. In the final match Court beat Kerry Melville of Australia again in straight sets. The tournament was thus won without the loss of a single set. The then WTA world number 1 had taken first of her 4 steps towards a Calendar Grand Slam.
Conquering the Channel Slam
After her scintillating victory in Melbourne, Paris was now the next step towards success. Margaret Court was again seeded op top of the draw due to her world number 1 rankings. The Aussie legend powered through the draw Marijke Schaar of Holland in the first and Russia’s Olga Morozova in the second round. Margaret then beat fellow Aussie player Lesley Hunt in the 3rd round and another familiar foe Rosie Casals in the quarter-final match. She had lost just one set in her 4 matches.
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In the semis, the top seed defeated Julie Heldman of the United States dominantly. She even handed the American a bagel in the 2nd set and thus made her entry in anther final of a major. The final against German player Helga Niessen was also not much of a test. Court lifted another major title and has now completed two of the 4 challenges towards her march for a calendar Grand Slam.
After her pulsating performance in Paris, Margaret Court went across the English Channel in the form of her life. The lawns of Wimbledon had been conquered by her already twice and it would be repeated in 1970. Powering through the initial round and handing constant bagels to her opponents Margaret Court met Czech star Vlasta Vopickova in the 3rd round. The top seed again made her march to victory easy and won the match without still losing a set.
Margaret Court was at her destructive best in the quarterfinal match against German rival Helga Niessen. After going down in the first set, the Aussie came roaring back to win the next two. She handed a double bagel of 6-0, 6-0 to her opponent in the 2nd and 3rd set, thus winning the match. Court beat Rosie Casals in the semis and thus booked a place in the tournament decider against familiar and long-term rival Billie Jean King. The match was an epic and lasted for two highly competitive sets. Margaret Court was the better player in deciding moments and won the match 14-12 and 11-9. The Calendar Grand Slam was now just 1 title away.
The Calendar Grand Slam Accomplished
The last frontier towards Court’s Calendar Grand Slam came in New York. Those days the US Open was also played on grass courts. The Aussie starlet who also was the defending champion was again seeded on top in the draw. She had seemingly easy early-round matches meeting another Australian player Helen Cawley in the quarters. The match again ended in Margaret’s favor in straight sets.
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In the semi-final match, she met local American Nancy Richey and looked dominant from the word go. Margaret Court won the match in two back to back sets and entered the tournament final. Here she would again defeat another local starlet Rosie Casals in a 3 set match. The Aussie great had not only completed the Calendar Grand Slam but won 5 singles majors back to back. Her invincibility that year has been very rarely matched in the history of the game.
Margaret Court Career Legacy
Court was the greatest Grand Slam champion in tennis history among both male and female players. She won a total of astonishing 64 major titles in her career. Of these, 24 were won in singles, 19 in doubles, and 21 in mixed doubles. That was by far the most by any men’s or women’s tennis player in the game. She also won the Australian Open 11 times in singles. It was a record by any player at any slam for more than 40 years before Rafa Nadal improved it at the French Open. In the Australian Open, she continues to be the most successful champion.
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With her 192 total singles career title, Margaret Court was certainly the best female player of her Era. She was one of the greatest legends of the sport and without doubt the best female tennis star from Australia. On the 50 years of her Calendar Grand Slam, we salute the champion.