Podcast Episode 89: Rebuilding the History of Women’s Tennis

Episode 89 of the Tennis Abstract Podcast reverses roles, with Carl Bialik, of the Thirty Love podcast, interviewing Jeff about his recent efforts to add pre-Open Era women’s tennis data to Tennis Abstract.

High-level tennis did not begin in 1968 with the introduction of Open tennis, but official statistical records often give the mistaken impression that it did. We talk about the existing state of the data, the players whose reputations rest heavily on pre-Open Era accomplishments, and the value of simply getting historical records into an accessible format. We also cover two very different #1s, Althea Gibson and Margaret Court, and dip into what people get right and wrong in the Serena-vs-Court debate.

You can read a lot more about the new data here at the blog–yesterday I posted about the 1963 season, and you can also check out a one-page portal to that year’s data here.

Also, a reminder: In a couple of weeks we’ll be talking about our first book club pick, A Handful of Summers by Gordon Forbes. Let us know if you have thoughts about the book, questions for us to discuss on the show, or suggestions for future book club selections.

Fans of the TA podcast will also want to check out Dangerous Exponents, the new Covid-19 podcast that Carl and I are doing. We released episode 7, about mutations and the vaccine rollout, today.

(Note: this week’s episode is about 50 minutes long; in some browsers the audio player may display a different length. Sorry about that!)

Click to listen, subscribe on iTunes, or use our feed to get updates on your favorite podcast software.