The act of winning Majors on three different surfaces in the same year is called the Calendar Surface Slam. The Grand Slams comprise the highest level of professional tennis. The four Majors - Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open - are unique for the fact that they are played on three different surfaces. While the Australian Open and US Open are played on hard courts, the French Open and Wimbledon are played on clay and grass courts respectively. But that wasn't always the case.
The French Open and Wimbledon have maintained the turf they were contested on ever since their inaugural editions. The Australian Open began in 1905 and was initially played on outdoor grass courts. This continued all the way up to 1987, before Melbourne finally switched to hard courts. Mats Wilander, the seven-time singles Major champion who has won all Slams at least once, except for Wimbledon, is the only player to win the Australian Open on both hard and grass courts.
Between 1881 and 1974, the US Open was played on grass courts. It was then held on clay until 1977. Since 1978, the tournament has been contested on hard courts. Jimmy Connors is the only player to win the US Open on all three surfaces. He later went on to become the first man to win Majors on three different surfaces.
Let's take a look at the four players who have won the last three Majors of the year to achieve the Calendar Surface Slam:
#1 Martina Navratilova - 1984
Martina Navratilova won her first Major at the 1978 Wimbledon Championships and her 18th and final at the 1990 Wimbledon Championships. Such was her dominance over the years that apart from 1980, 1988 and 1989, she won at least one Major every year starting in 1978.
A World No. 1 for 332 weeks, Navratilova was at her most dominant between 1981 and 1985, along with Chris Evert. Navratilova and Evert collectively won every Major between the 1982 Australian Open and the 1985 Wimbledon Championships.
Before the 1984 season, Navratilova had already won every Major at least once. Before entering the 1984 Australian Open, she had won six consecutive Majors and was on a 70-match winning streak. However, her streak ended in the semis when she lost to eventual runner-up Helena Sukova.
The next three Majors of the year saw Navratilova meet Evert in the finals each time. There was no change in the result as well, as Navratilova won each of them comprehensively. By winning the 1984 French Open, she completed the non-calendar-year Grand Slam. She won her 10th Major at the 1984 Wimbledon Championships and completed a Calendar Surface Slam at the 1984 US Open.
#2 Steffi Graf - 1988, 1993, 1995, 1996
Steffi Graf announced herself when she won the French Open in 1987, defeating Navratilova in the final. The following year, she completed the Career Golden Slam, winning all four Majors and Olympic gold. In 1993, she won the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open yet again in the same year, thus becoming the first player, male or female, to achieve a second Surface Slam.
During her wins in 1988 and 1993, the players Graf defeated in the finals were Navratilova, Evert, Jana Novotna, Helena Sukova, Natasha Zvereva, Gabriela Sabatini and Mary Joe Fernandez.
Graf was World No. 1 for a record 377 weeks. By 1995, she had won 15 Major singles titles. Between 1995 and 1996, Graf and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario contested four Major finals - two each at Wimbledon and the French Open. Graf faced Monica Seles twice in the US Open final in those years. On each occasion, Graf got the better of Vicario and Seles.
After winning the 1995 US Open, the German became the first player to win every Major at least four times. She won her 21st Major after winning the 1996 US Open as well as completing a record-extending fourth Surface Slam.
#3 Serena Williams - 2002
Serena Williams became the first African American woman to win a Major singles title when she won the 1999 US Open. Over the next couple of years, it was her older sister Venus Williams who won four Majors between 2000 and 2001. At the turn of the century, the Williams sisters displayed a newer version of tennis with powerful strokes launched from the baseline. Faster serves and upgraded athleticism saw the sisters at the helm of the game.
In 2002, with the exception of the Australian Open, the Williams sisters met in the finals of all the remaining Majors. Each time, it was the younger sibling who lifted the trophy. Serena did not drop a single set in any of these finals and thus became the third player in the Open Era to complete the Surface Slam by winning the last three Majors of the year.
#4 Rafael Nadal - 2010
Up until 2009, Rafael Nadal, the current leader of the Grand Slam count in men's tennis, had won six Majors. He was, however, yet to win the US Open. The Spaniard began the 2010 season as World No. 2. After retiring from his Australian Open quarterfinal match against Andy Murray, Nadal came back valiantly for the next three Slams of the year. He won his fifth French Open title and second Wimbledon after defeating Robin Soderling and Tomas Berdych in their respective finals.
By the time the US Open arrived, Nadal was up to No. 1 in the rankings. The top seed did not drop a single set en route to the final, where he was up against Novak Djokovic. Nadal won the match in four sets to complete the Surface Slam, Career Slam and the non-calendar-year Slam. He also became the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in the same calendar year, but was the first man in history to win each of those on three different surfaces.