Height of Wimbledon Players Over Time

Is height an advantage for tennis players? There have certainly been successful tennis players both short and tall throughout history. Body size and composition is often rated very low in importance for tennis, however it's role is not insignificant.

Tall players with a good arm length can reach more areas of the court with ease, and when serving a player with longer arms can generate more racket speed and contact the ball from a higher height. On the other hand, being shorter is usually associated with greater balance and agility, very important for quickly covering all areas of the tennis court.

As the depth of players and competitiveness of tennis has increased over time, so has generally player height. Analysis of the standing height of Wimbledon winners for the last 100 years shows a gradual increase in average height, particularly since the 1960s.

Increasing Height Trend since the 1960s

We have data for most of the winners since 1960, and grouping them by decade helps to even out the data. The graph below shows a clear trend of the champion players getting taller. The average male champion in the 1960s was 182cm (5 ft 11.5 in), and so far in the 2010s it is 188cm (6 ft 2 in). For the females, it has increased from 170cm (5 ft 7 in) in the 1960s up to a peak of 181cm (5 ft 11.5 in) in the 2000s.

tennis player height over time

The data for 2010's include all players up to and including the 2016 winner.

Graph of Wimbledon Winners and Their Height

Here is a graph of all the height data for the male and female Wimbledon champions (all numbers in the table below), showing the changes over time. There is obviously a lot of variation, though the trend lines show the gradual increase over time, which is more pronounced for the women.

height of Wimbledon winners

The tallest male winners at 1.96 m (6 ft 5 in) were Yvon Petra in 1946 and Richard Krajicek in 1996. In the last 30 years, only the winners Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt were below six foot. The shortest male winner was Henri Cochet from 1927 and 1929 who was 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in). The 1939 winner Bobby Riggs was 1.70m tall (5 ft 7 in), and we estimate Manuel Santana from 1966 to also be about that height.

The tallest female was 1999 winner Lindsay Davenport at 1.89 m (6 ft 2 1⁄2 in), and not far behind her Maria Sharapova at 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in). The shortest at 1.64 m (5 ft 4.5) was Billie Jean King from the 1960s and 70s, and May Sutton from 1905 and 1907. Multiple winner from the 1950's Maureen Connolly was 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in), and more recently Chris Evert Lloyd was only 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in).

Table of Winners and their height

The table below lists all known heights of male and female Wimbledon champions. There is a lot of missing height data from prior to the 1960s.

Year Men's Winner height Women's winner height
1881 Willie Renshaw 177cm / 5 ft 9.5 in
1882 Willie Renshaw 177cm / 5 ft 9.5 in
1883 Willie Renshaw 177cm / 5 ft 9.5 in
1884 Willie Renshaw 177cm / 5 ft 9.5 in
1885 Willie Renshaw 177cm / 5 ft 9.5 in
1886 Willie Renshaw 177cm / 5 ft 9.5 in
1887 Herbert Lawford 180cm / 5 ft 11 in Lottie Dod 169cm / 5 ft 6 1⁄2 in
1888 Ernest Renshaw 178cm / 5 ft 10 in Lottie Dod 169cm / 5 ft 6 1⁄2 in
1889 Willie Renshaw 177cm / 5 ft 9.5 in Blanche Hillyard
1890 William Hamilton Lena Rice
1891 Wilfred Baddeley Lottie Dod 169cm / 5 ft 6 1⁄2 in
1892 Wilfred Baddeley Lottie Dod 169cm / 5 ft 6 1⁄2 in
1893 Joshua Pim Lottie Dod 169cm / 5 ft 6 1⁄2 in
1894 Joshua Pim Blanche Hillyard
1895 Wilfred Baddeley Charlotte Cooper
1896 Harold Mahony 191cm / 6 ft 3 in Charlotte Cooper
1897 Reggie Doherty 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Blanche Hillyard
1898 Reggie Doherty 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Charlotte Cooper
1899 Reggie Doherty 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Blanche Hillyard
1900 Reggie Doherty 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Blanche Hillyard
1901 Arthur Gore Charlotte Sterry
1902 Laurie Doherty 178cm / 5 ft 10 in Muriel Robb
1903 Laurie Doherty 178cm / 5 ft 10 in Dorothea Douglass
1904 Laurie Doherty 178cm / 5 ft 10 in Dorothea Douglass
1905 Laurie Doherty 178cm / 5 ft 10 in May Sutton 164cm / 5 ft 4.5 in
1906 Laurie Doherty 178cm / 5 ft 10 in Dorothea Douglass
1907 Norman Brookes 180cm / 5 ft 11 in May Sutton 164cm / 5 ft 4.5 in
1908 Arthur Gore Charlotte Sterry
1909 Arthur Gore Dora Boothby
1910 Tony Wilding 187cm / 6 ft 2 in Dorothea Chambers
1911 Tony Wilding 187cm / 6 ft 2 in Dorothea Chambers
1912 Tony Wilding 187cm / 6 ft 2 in Ethel Larcombe
1913 Tony Wilding 187cm / 6 ft 2 in Dorothea Chambers
1914 Norman Brookes 180cm / 5 ft 11 in Dorothea Chambers
1919 Gerald Patterson Suzanne Lenglen
1920 Bill Tilden 188cm / 6 ft 2 in Suzanne Lenglen
1921 Bill Tilden 188cm / 6 ft 2 in Suzanne Lenglen
1922 Gerald Patterson Suzanne Lenglen
1923 Bill Johnston 173cm / 5 ft 8 in Suzanne Lenglen
1924 Jean Borotra 186cm / 6 ft 1 in Kathleen McKane
1925 Rene Lacoste Suzanne Lenglen
1926 Jean Borotra 186cm / 6 ft 1 in Kathleen Godfree
1927 Henri Cochet 168cm / 5 ft 6 in Helen Wills 170cm / 5 ft 7 in
1928 Rene Lacoste Helen Wills 170cm / 5 ft 7 in
1929 Henri Cochet 168cm / 5 ft 6 in Helen Wills 170cm / 5 ft 7 in
1930 Bill Tilden 188cm / 6 ft 2 in Helen Moody 170cm / 5 ft 7 in
1931 Sidney Wood Cilly Aussem
1932 Ellsworth Vines 189cm / 6 ft 21⁄2 in Helen Moody 170cm / 5 ft 7 in
1933 Jack Crawford 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Helen Moody 170cm / 5 ft 7 in
1934 Fred Perry 183cm / 6 ft 0 in Dorothy Round
1935 Fred Perry 183cm / 6 ft 0 in Helen Moody 170cm / 5 ft 7 in
1936 Fred Perry 183cm / 6 ft 0 in Helen Jacobs
1937 Don Budge 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Dorothy Round
1938 Don Budge 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Helen Moody 170cm / 5 ft 7 in
1939 Bobby Riggs 170cm / 5 ft 7 in Alice Marble
1946 Yvon Petra 196 m / 6 ft 5 in Pauline Betz 166cm / 5 ft 5 in
1947 Jack Kramer 188cm / 6 ft 2 in Margaret Osborne
1948 Bob Falkenburg 191cm / 6 ft 3 in Louise Brough 171cm / 5 ft 7 in
1949 Ted Schroeder Louise Brough 171cm / 5 ft 7 in
1950 Budge Patty Louise Brough 171cm / 5 ft 7 in
1951 Dick Savitt 191cm / 6 ft 3 in Doris Hart
1952 Frank Sedgman Maureen Connolly 165cm / 5 ft 5 in
1953 Vic Seixas 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Maureen Connolly 165cm / 5 ft 5 in
1954 Jaroslav Drobny Maureen Connolly 165cm / 5 ft 5 in
1955 Tony Trabert 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Louise Brough
1956 Lew Hoad 179cm / 5 ft 10 1⁄2 in Shirley Fry 165cm / 5 ft 5 in
1957 Lew Hoad 179cm / 5 ft 10 1⁄2 in Althea Gibson 180cm / 5 ft 11 in
1958 Ashley Cooper 178cm / 5 ft 10 in Althea Gibson 180cm / 5 ft 11 in
1959 Alex Olmedo 179cm / 5 ft 10 1⁄2 in Maria Bueno
1960 Neale Fraser 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Maria Bueno
1961 Rod Laver 173cm / 5 ft 8 in Angela Mortimer
1962 Rod Laver 173cm / 5 ft 8 in Karen Susman
1963 Chuck McKinley 173cm / 5 ft 8 in Margaret Smith 175cm / 5 ft 9 in
1964 Roy Emerson 183cm / 6 ft 0 in Maria Bueno
1965 Roy Emerson 183cm / 6 ft 0 in Margaret Smith 175cm / 5 ft 9 in
1966 Manuel Santana 170cm / 5 ft 7 in * Billie Jean King 164cm / 5 ft 5 in
1967 John Newcombe 183cm / 6 ft 0 in Billie Jean King 164cm / 5 ft 5 in
1968 Rod Laver 173cm / 5 ft 8 in Billie Jean King 164cm / 5 ft 5 in
1969 Rod Laver 173cm / 5 ft 8 in Ann Jones
1970 John Newcombe 183cm / 6 ft 0 in Margaret Court 175cm / 5 ft 9 in
1971 John Newcombe 183cm / 6 ft 0 in Evonne Goolagong
1972 Stan Smith 193cm / 6 ft 4 in Billie Jean King 164cm / 5 ft 5 in
1973 Jan Kodes 175cm / 5 ft 9 in Billie Jean King 164cm / 5 ft 5 in
1974 Jimmy Connors 177cm / 5 ft 9 1⁄2 in Chris Evert 168cm / 5 ft 6 in
1975 Arthur Ashe 188cm / 6 ft 2 in Billie Jean King 164cm / 5 ft 5 in
1976 Bjorn Borg 180cm / 5 ft 11 in Chris Evert 168cm / 5 ft 6 in
1977 Bjorn Borg 180cm / 5 ft 11 in Virginia Wade 170cm / 5 ft 7 in
1978 Bjorn Borg 180cm / 5 ft 11 in Martina Navratilova 173cm / 5 ft 8 in
1979 Bjorn Borg 180cm / 5 ft 11 in Martina Navratilova 173cm / 5 ft 8 in
1980 Bjorn Borg 180cm / 5 ft 11 in Evonne Cawley
1981 John McEnroe 180cm / 5 ft 11 in Chris Evert Lloyd 168cm / 5 ft 6 in
1982 Jimmy Connors 177cm / 5 ft 9 1⁄2 in Martina Navratilova 173cm / 5 ft 8 in
1983 John McEnroe 180cm / 5 ft 11 in Martina Navratilova 173cm / 5 ft 8 in
1984 John McEnroe 180cm / 5 ft 11 in Martina Navratilova 173cm / 5 ft 8 in
1985 Boris Becker 190cm / 6 ft 3 in Martina Navratilova 173cm / 5 ft 8 in
1986 Boris Becker 190cm / 6 ft 3 in Martina Navratilova 173cm / 5 ft 8 in
1987 Pat Cash 183cm / 6 ft 0 in Martina Navratilova 173cm / 5 ft 8 in
1988 Stefan Edberg 188cm / 6 ft 2 in Steffi Graf 176cm / 5 ft 9 1⁄2 in
1989 Boris Becker 190cm / 6 ft 3 in Steffi Graf 176cm / 5 ft 9 1⁄2 in
1990 Stefan Edberg 188cm / 6 ft 2 in Martina Navratilova 173cm / 5 ft 8 in
1991 Michael Stich 193cm / 6 ft 4 in Steffi Graf 176cm / 5 ft 9 1⁄2 in
1992 Andre Agassi 180cm / 5 ft 11 in Steffi Graf 176cm / 5 ft 9 1⁄2 in
1993 Pete Sampras 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Steffi Graf 176cm / 5 ft 9 1⁄2 in
1994 Pete Sampras 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Conchita Martinez 173cm / 5 ft 8 in
1995 Pete Sampras 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Steffi Graf 176cm / 5 ft 9 1⁄2 in
1996 Richard Krajicek 196cm / 6 ft 5 in Steffi Graf 176cm / 5 ft 9 1⁄2 in
1997 Pete Sampras 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Martina Hingis 170cm / 5 ft 7 in
1998 Pete Sampras 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Jana Novotna 170cm / 5 ft 7 in
1999 Pete Sampras 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Lindsay Davenport 189cm / 6 ft 21⁄2 in
2000 Pete Sampras 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Venus Williams 185cm / 6 ft 1 in
2001 Goran Ivanisevic 193cm / 6 ft 4 in Venus Williams 185cm / 6 ft 1 in
2002 Lleyton Hewitt 180cm / 5 ft 11 in Serena Williams 175cm / 5 ft 9 in
2003 Roger Federer 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Serena Williams 175cm / 5 ft 9 in
2004 Roger Federer 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Maria Sharapova 188cm / 6 ft 2 in
2005 Roger Federer 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Venus Williams 185cm / 6 ft 1 in
2006 Roger Federer 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Amelie Mauresmo 175cm / 5 ft 9 in
2007 Roger Federer 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Venus Williams 185cm / 6 ft 1 in
2008 Rafael Nadal 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Venus Williams 185cm / 6 ft 1 in
2009 Roger Federer 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Serena Williams 175cm / 5 ft 9 in
2010 Rafael Nadal 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Serena Williams 175cm / 5 ft 9 in
2011 Novak Djokovic 188cm / 6 ft 2 in Petra Kvitova 182cm / 5 ft 111⁄2  in
2012 Roger Federer 185cm / 6 ft 1 in Serena Williams 175cm / 5 ft 9 in
2013 Andy Murray 191cm / 6 ft 3 in Marion Bartoli 170cm / 5 ft 7 in
2014 Novak Djokovic 188cm / 6 ft 2 in Petra Kvitová 182cm / 5 ft 111⁄2  in
2015 Novak Djokovic 188cm / 6 ft 2 in Serena Williams 175cm / 5 ft 9 in
2016 Andy Murray 191cm / 6 ft 3 in Serena Williams 175cm / 5 ft 9 in

* the height of Manuel Santana from 1966 is estimated based on photographic evidence.

source: the height values in the table are taken from the Wikipedia page for each player, and though they are believed to be pretty accurate, they may not be.

Olympic Tennis

At the 2012 Olympic Games, the average height of the tennis players was 186.6cm (males) and 173.6 (females).

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