Wimbledon has officially started! The stats behind The Championships are immense, and it goes without saying that tennis is a very data-driven sport. So much so that IBM is using AI and its hybrid cloud to provide insights into it. We looked at these analyses and also checked data from other sources to take a deep-dive into the legendary tournament.
Focusing on the Open Era starting in 1968, we created a few data visualizations to celebrate the start of Wimbledon and get you inspired.
Wins at the Grand Slam tournaments contribute to positioning tennis players among the world’s best, but they are not the only factor. Tennis professionals use the Pepperstone ATP rankings to determine qualification and seeding for all singles and doubles tournaments, based on merit.
For instance, Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev has only won a single Grand Slam title so far but is still ranked as world number one by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). In comparison, Rafael Nadal has blown the competition away 22 times at Grand Slam tournaments, but ranks fourth according to his 2022 ATP points.
The visualization above shows the correlation between games won during the 2021 Wimbledon tournament and the overall ATP points (please note that the ATP points are accurate prior to the start of last year’s competition – stats may have since changed). The results may not come as a surprise to tennis fans, especially since high performance in the Grand Slam brings the most ATP points. However, while Djokovic leads in both rankings, Berrettini and Medvedev are two more obvious exceptions to the overall trend.
Speaking of trends, historical data from Wimbledon shows that there is a general upward trend in the number of tie-breaks per tournament. The chart below shows how tie-breaks have increased on average since the late 80s, although their absolute number has declined in the past couple of years. It was recently announced that a 10-point tie-break would now be the official way to win the match instead of the previous extended sets.
The decision aims to “create greater consistency in the rules of the game” but whether this will result in more or less tie-breaks remains to be seen.
Although Wimbledon is considered to be one of the most prestigious sports events in the world, the championship only enacted equal prize pay for men and women in 2007. For comparison, other Grand Slam tournaments such as the US Open introduced equal pay in 1973 – just five years since the start of the Open Era.
The years following the Open Era saw significant progress in narrowing the gender pay gap, but men were still paid 26% more than women on average. The pay gap was finally closed in 2007, when respected names in tennis such as Billie Jean King and Venus Williams voiced their opposition to the inequality.
Now let’s focus on the winners of the Wimbledon tournament. Roger Federer and Martina Navratilova are grass royalty, holding the most titles for the singles events with 8 and 9 wins respectively.
If we take a look at where Wimbledon champions for the Singles events are from, we see that the United States and Australia are the top places on the list. The likes of John McEnroe, Serena and Venus Williams, Peter Sampras, Ashleigh Barty, Rod Laver or Billie Jean King, come from these two countries.
Switzerland, Spain, Germany and the UK are also lands of champions across both male and female events. However, the number of winners doesn’t always equal number of championships won. Roger Federer racks the most titles in the Men’s Singles and he is the only male winner from Switzerland. The same happens to Novak Djokovic, the defending champion and 6-time title holder, who is the sole winner from Serbia.
The map below plots bubbles on top of the winners’ country of origin. Click the buttons to size the bubbles by the number of winners per country or the number of championships. You can also toggle between Men and Women’s events.
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A forehand crosscourt, two-handed backhand, an overhead smash… It goes without saying that tennis players use their hands a lot. But is being left-handed an advantage in tennis? Depending on whether you ask a leftie or a rightie, the answer will vary greatly!
Taking into consideration that lefties make up about 10-12% of the world’s population, it is interesting to see that more than a quarter of Men’s and Women’s Singles finalists are using their left hand during a game. Besides, some right-handed players such as Maria Sharapova and Margaret Court are naturally left-handed but learned to use their right arm more during their training.
Last year, Wimbledon drew a cumulative audience of 15.5 million people on the BBC, but Björn Borg’s defeat against John McEnroe still stands as the most viewed game in the history of the tournament. See other Wimbledon viewership milestones below!
Although spending hours watching a game may be more comfortable in front of the TV, nothing compares to seeing your favorite tennis star playing in person. However, the popularity of the tournament and the limited capacity of an average tennis court make in-person attendance a costly experience.
Nonetheless, we will certainly be glued to the screen for the next two weeks, munching on strawberries and cream. 🍓 In the meantime, explore some of our previous blog posts or reach out at email@example.com to share your favorite Wimbledon coverage made with Flourish!