Welcome to the latest update on a project that has well and truly spiraled out of control. I’m pleased to announced that the Tennis Abstract site now features a huge amount of women’s tennis data from 1965. I hesitate to call it “complete,” because it is not, and it probably never will be. But the word “substantial” will do just fine:
- 3,200 matches
- 248 events (plus Federation Cup)
- 400 players that weren’t previously in my database
The 1965 dataset is even more sizable than the 1967 and 1966 results that I’ve recently discussed in other blog posts. To put those 3,200 results in perspective, there were “only” about 3,100 tour-level WTA matches in 2019.
- The full event calendar has some new information to indicate the strength of the tournament: the number of top 10 players in the draw (as per that week’s Elo ratings), and the “geographic concentration” of the field–that is, the percentage of women in the draw who hail from the most common country. The second number isn’t perfect, especially when I only have a few results from the event, but as a general rule, the lower the geographic concentration, the stronger the field.
- The year-end Elo rankings table includes some helpful additional information: each player’s age, her number of titles, and her won-loss record on the season.
The season page tends to highlight the best players, and I’d imagine that’s what most of you will find the most interesting. Margaret Court dominated the 1965 campaign, winning over 100 matches, losing only 8, and posting the best year-end Elo on all surfaces. The page will also tell that you she drew Lesley Bowrey ten times–nine of them in finals!–and Bowrey accounted for 4 of her 8 losses.
(Court and Bowrey were already familiar foes: They met in the 1960 Australian Championships girl’s final. Court lost, but bounced back quickly, winning the women’s final–her first major title–the next day.)
Equally fascinating for me are the names you almost never hear in their tennis context. Since I’m working backward, the players I added to the database for 1965 were those who finished their careers that year. (Or played predominantly at lesser regional events, and only briefly popped up on my radar.) Here are a few of the ladies whose tennis careers I stumbled upon:
- Sandy Warshaw, who later become mayor of Tampa
- Lillian O’Donnell, a noted detective novelist who set one of her stories at Forest Hills
- Maria Chiara Ramorino, who became better known in the orienteering world, and has an Antarctic glacier named after her
- Rita Horky, a Hall of Famer in women’s basketball
I could list many more.
Data and acknowledgements
Once again, I note the huge debt I owe to the contributors at tennisforum.com’s Blast From the Past section. They’ve converted newspaper and annual results into online content that I could then further organize into a proper dataset.
All of the raw data is available in my women’s tennis GitHub repo.