This week Andy Murray broke through with his first grand slam singles title in the 2012 US Open. This led me to compile the following list of the grand slam singles champions (winning for the first time in the Open era from 1968) along with the number of tournaments they won before winning that first grand slam. As can be seen, only a handful won more than a dozen tournaments before their first major, with Ivan Lendl leading the way with 40 tournament wins spanning four years before his first major! Aside from Murray and his coach Lendl, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Jana Novotna, Kim Clijsters, Guillermo Vilas, Thomas Muster and Goran Ivanišević won more than 20 tournaments before finally achieving that first grand slam win.
A few players won a grand slam as their first tournament victory, Gustavo Kuerten the most recent to do so. As far as I can tell only Chris O’Neil won her one and only singles tournament at a grand slam.
As an aside, I noticed that Thomas Muster had an amazing run in 1995, winning 11 tournaments in just over six months, all on clay!