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Added August 26th, 2015 by Ian

Pro tennis players getting better with age

Pro sports have long been considered to be dominated by younger athletes, especially when it comes to tennis. However, recent statistics show that’s not the case anymore. It seems older players are now better than their younger counterparts. In days gone by we saw Boris Becker win Wimbledon when he was just 17 years old and Rafael Nadal took the French Open when he was 19, but the days of young guns ousting veterans appear to be over.

Let’s take a look at the stats and see how tennis has evolved over the past couple of decades. Back in 1992, each player ranked in the men’s top 10 was an average age of 23.2 years old. In 2002 the age rose to 24.5 and this year it reached 28.6. There have been 10 occasions when a male Grand Slam tournament was won by a teenager. However, there are now just four male teenagers ranked in the top 100 and just one in the top 75. Back in 1985 there were two teenagers in the top 10. Also in 1985 just three players in the top 40 were older than 28. In 2015, 24 players in the top 40 are 28 or older.

Back in 1995 there were just eight 32-year-olds ranked in the top 500 with the highest ranking being 124. Currently, 18 players aged 32 or older are ranked in the top 124 with five of them being in the top 25. The last teenager to win a Grand Slam was Nadal, when he captured the French open in 2005 when he was 19.

The same trend can be seen in the women’s game as the average age of the top 10 ranked players in 1992 was 21.7-years-old. A decade later the age rose to 22 and in 2014 it reached 25.9. This year, 33-year-old Serena Williams made history by becoming the oldest female to win a Grand Slam tournament when she took the crown at Wimbledon. At the end of 1990, half of the top 10 women were teenagers. Currently, there is just a trio of teenagers ranked in the top 100.

In addition, 20 of the top 30 were younger than 23 in 1990 and today there are just half a dozen under the age of 23.
In total, eight females have captured a Grand Slam event before their 19th birthday and in 2015 there’s just one player under 19 ranked in the top 150. There are 15 females over the age of 30 ranked in the top 100 this year, whereas in 2000 there were only two. Also, in 2012 there were just three players over the age of 32 ranked in the top 100 and there are now eight of them this year.

There could be a combination of factors for this trend of older tennis players being better, such as training methods and racquet technology. But whatever it is, it sure seems to be working and at the moment there’s no sign of the older veterans slowing down, especially Williams in the women’s division.

 
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