Comparing terms “women’s tennis” and “men’s tennis”, the ladies score better when it comes to the number of Google searches in the United States. I find this statistic interesting, so I decided to dig deeper into these all-revealing numbers.
There is this ever-going debate whether men’s tennis is “worth” more than women’s tennis. A simple analysis of Google Trends can give us answers to a lot of questions. Google rates popularity of search terms on a scale of 1 to 100, 100 being peak popularity. The search engine started measuring data in 2004, so when I say all-time, it refers to the period from 2004 until now.
Tennis Worldwide Trend
Looking at the all-time worldwide trend for term “tennis”, we can notice declining popularity. The peak was in June 2005.
Country with the greatest number of searches proportionate to all other searches on all topics was Australia, followed by Switzerland, Italy, France and Belgium. Note that this does not mean that “tennis” had the greatest search volume in these countries, as the measurement is relative to other searches per location. Otherwise, places with the most search volume would always be ranked highest.
Women’s Tennis vs. Men’s Tennis
When we look at worldwide trends, “women’s tennis” and “men’s tennis” are pretty much equal. However, for a more precise overview, it’s better that we look into the stats of the leading countries where tennis is popular.
In the United States, “tennis” peaked in September 2009 and in September 2018. The leading location is Connecticut, followed by New York, Georgia, New Jersey and District of Columbia.
The popularity of “women’s tennis” is on a constant rise in the United States. The peak periods were in September 2017, 2018 and 2019, apparently because of the US Open. The most recent peak, just as high, was in April this year. Search term “men’s tennis” is also on the upward trend, with peaks in April 2016 and September 2019.
Interestingly, when we compare “women’s tennis” and “men’s tennis” in the United States, women’s tennis ranks higher, scoring 46 to men’s tennis’ 39 all-time. In the past 12 months, the ladies’ lead is even greater, 56 to 42.
However, things are not that simple. Other search terms show vastly different results. “ATP tennis” is much more popular than “WTA tennis” — 34 to 14 all-time and 35 to 19 in the past 12 months. “WTA” has the score of 6, while “ATP” scores 27 in the past 12 months, while the discrepancy is even more drastic in the all-time stats, 10 to 39. The comparison of “WTA Tour” and “ATP Tour” again shows the lead of men.
In the UK, “men’s tennis” ranks better, 19 to 12 all-time and 21 to 17 in the past year. Men also lead in other similar search terms “ATP/WTA (tennis)” and “ATP/WTA Tour”.
“Men’s tennis” is slightly more popular in Australia when it comes to all-time stats (14 to 13), but in the past year ladies have taken that one-point lead (14 to 13). Other relevant keywords show a greater lead of the ATP Tour.
Comparison with other Sports
Sport as a topic has a relatively constant high popularity. Only in April 2020 it experienced a drastic dump because of the pandemic. Interestingly, countries googling sports the most are Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Serbia, both all-time and in the last 12 months.
Let’s do a quick analysis of how tennis stands against other popular sports in Google Trends. This time I’ll analyze only the last 12 months. Not surprisingly, football (soccer) has a dramatic lead.
- Football (51)
- Basketball (11)
- Cricket (10)
- American football (8)
- Tennis (5)
- American football (40)
- Basketball (33)
- Football (22)
- Tennis (8)
- Cricket (2)
Do you have anything to add to these insights? What are your conclusions?
I believe that in the United States tennis is now being perceived more as a woman’s sport. That is reflected in the fact that more American women are in the WTA top 100 than are American men in the ATP top 100. We used to have Sampras, Agassi, Chang, and Courier in the 90’s winning Grand Slam events. Andy Roddick was the last to win one in 2003, and there hasn’t been a nibble since. Maybe Sebastian Korda will change that, but I don’t think he will inspire any future American men to take up the sport. On the women’s side Serena is still inspiring and Coco Gauff should win Slam events and take up the mentor role in the States to inspire American women to play tennis.
Jim, I know you also follow golf… I was surprised to see that golf is 4.25x more popular than tennis in the United States and 2.8x more popular worldwide. Moreover, women’s golf is slightly more popular than women’s tennis. I’m talking about the past 12 months period. Did you expect these numbers?
Marija, I am not surprised by the numbers in the United States, but am surprised by the worldwide numbers. I would have thought that tennis would have had more interest worldwide. Thinking about myself I do equal searches in both women’s tennis and golf and that reflects the numbers.
Jim, yes, tennis is apparently a very focused niche, not too small, but still… As tennis fans, we obviously have a different impression. Also its popularity seems to be on the decline when I look at the numbers, as lows in these waves are getting lower through the years. I am not an expert in reading graphs, but that’s my conclusion, both worldwide and in the United States.
As someone who has both played & followed tennis for years, I believe The Tennis Channel would do well to offer subscribers the option of subscribing to EITHER ATP matches or WTA matches. In our family we much prefer watching women’s tennis and we enjoy the women’s back stories & interviews quite a bit more.
We can still keep up with the men when the Majors are televised, although even then we will NOT spend hours watching 4 or 5 setters when we could choose to see 2 women’s matches in the same time instead.
Offering fans this option would be just wonderful!