Who’s Best at Tennis – Men or Women?

Courtesy of
Smash Shot

Equality and Difference in Men’s and Women’s Tennis 

Every year a debate rumbles on in tennis about gender equality and this year is no exception with Wimbledon currently taking place. Perhaps it might surprise you to know that champions at Wimbledon have only received equal prize money since 2007. Women playing the best of three sets and men playing the best of five has led some to criticise the equal pay received by male and female players because it’s perceived that they don’t do equal work. However, we want to show below that whilst there are differences in the men’s and women’s games, the strengths don’t all lie with the men. Besides, there is a growing number of female tennis players who would prefer to play the best of five sets given the chance.


At the 2012 United States Open, IBM carried out research on the difference between male and female tennis players. John Isner hit the fastest serve at 144 miles per hour, whilst Serena Williams was the fastest woman with a serve of 125 miles per hour. The speed of the serve seems to be the main reason for differences in how the men’s and women’s games are played.  Of the 82 players analysed, five women hit a serve of at least 120 miles per hour, whereas only 5 men failed to reach that speed in their fastest delivery. It’s fair to say that women have less power in their serve because of differences in size and strength.


However, despite the lower speed of a first serve, women’s return games were far more successful. 47 made at least 75% of their returns whereas only 8 of the men did this.  35 women won at least 40% of their return points against the first serve whereas only 2 men managed this and against second serves 52 women won at least 55% of their return points whereas only 16 men managed this. Williams won from the baseline with 218 from 15 sets (an average of 14.5 winners per set), whereas Murray, leading the men, had an average of 10.2 winners per set.


So, whilst tennis may not yet be a perfect specimen of gender equality, it is certainly leading the way in the sports world as one of the few sports where the women’s game is as commercially and professionally successful as the men’s. In some ways the men’s and women’s games are different animals, as shown in this infographic provided by AposTherapy, making it hard to compare the work done. Instead it makes sense to think that equal reward is due to those few men and women who earn the number one world rankings in tennis! If increasing the number of sets in the women’s game is introduced in the future, then so be it.


Thanks for reading.


TA Physio



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TA Physio

am driven and passionate about healthcare focused on delivering successful patient outcomes through personalised rehabilitation. So far, I have established a successful career in physiotherapy rehabilitation and gained valuable experience in contributing to marketing strategies within multi-national companies. In 2005 I graduated from UWIC with a degree in science, health, exercise and sport, and then specialised in Physiotherapy and graduated Coventry University in 2008. Since commencing my physiotherapy career I have gained valuable experience in musculoskeletal, sports rehabilitation, and community based neurological and falls prevention rehabilitation within the NHS. In 2010 I set up TA Physio to provide a personal and flexible service for clientele requiring sports rehabilitation, falls prevention & rehabilitation, musculoskeletal physiotherapy as well as bio mechanical assessment in North London. In 2011 I joined AposTherapy as a junior therapist and developed over 2 years to become a Senior AposTherapist in 2013. Recently I have been promoted to lead the London Clinic development and growth reporting directly to the UK Clinical Lead and overseeing ten members of clinical staff. The responsibilities included developing vital HCP links to build referral pathways, accountable for staff development and clinical needs of the AposTherapy London Clinic. In 2014 I provided physiotherapy to elite athletes at The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. I was based within the busy and dynamic polyclinic within the Athletes' Villages. The aim is to help Glasgow 2014 deliver a direct access physiotherapy service to the people at the heart of the Games. Specialties: Gait Analysis, Deviations and Gait Rehabilitation; Sports Specific Rehabilitation; Orthopaedic Post Operative Rehabilitation; Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy; Clinical Blog Writing; Development and Growth of Clinical Services; Presenting to Healthcare Professionals & Advisory Boards.