On the contrary, new and younger champions have burst onto the scene in women’s singles
On July 11, 2021, Novak Djokovic became the third male singles player to win 20 Grand Slam titles after Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The trio have won 60 of the 72 Majors played since Wimbledon 2003, Federer’s first Slam title. Their sheer dominance has pushed the average age of men Slam winners above 30, with breakthrough wins — when a player wins their first Major — becoming a rarity. However, it’s a different story in the women’s singles event. After Serena Williams’ dominance waned, new and younger champions have burst onto the scene. Twelve of the last 22 wins were breakthroughs and most of the players were relatively young, pushing down the average age of women champions since 2016.
Ageing like fine wine
The chart depicts the age of men’s singles Grand Slam winners and the average age of champions at the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Since 2010, the average* age of champions has consistently moved upwards across all four Majors. In the past, there were instances when the average age of winners was relatively high. But such a high average age was neither seen in four consecutive Grand Slam tournaments nor did it sustain for a significant period of time.
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Rolling average of last seven *Grand Slam winners’ age at any given year
An open field
The chart depicts the age of women’s singles Grand Slam winners and the average age of champions at various Slams. Contrary to the men’s singles, the average age of women’s singles champions has trended downwards in the past few years after a period which saw relatively older winners. The decrease in age can be attributed to many first-time winners who were relatively young. Half of the 22 Grand Slam champions since 2016 were aged below 24, the average age of winners in this period.
Counting the number of breakthroughs can be an indicator of how dominant Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic have been in the men’s singles and how open the women’s singles playing field has been. The chart shows only the breakthrough wins since 2000 in both men’s and women’s singles. Since 2008 (Djokovic’s first Major), there have been only five breakthrough wins among men. On the other hand, there have been 20 breakthrough wins among women.
Since 2000, 60 out of the 86 men’s singles Grand Slam titles were won by Federer, Nadal or Djokovic. In the past five years, only one Grand Slam has had a winner outside of the Big Three.
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