Is the expression that tennis is a sport for the rich still true? Will we see the correlation between income level and success in tennis? This post is follow-up to the analysis of “The most tennis countries” post I wrote couple months ago.

Here I’ll analyse is there a link between country income level and number of top tennis players (men and women in top 1000 professional tennis players). Previously I calculated number of top tennis players per country. To make this analysis I slided the data by World Bank income groups:

  • High income: nonOECD (Australia falls in this group)
  • High income: OECD (here we have countries like Russia and Argentina to name few)
  • Lower middle income (India belongs to this group)
  • Upper middle income (China is listed here)
  • Low income (Congo, Haiti are in this group)

Important to note that population column contains population of all countries that belong to the corresponding group, not only those where are top tennis players exist. Relative numbers are calculated as ratio of top male or female players divided on total population.

The resulting table is below. Relative numbers are starting with “Rel.”

Tennis and country wealth
Income group Population Men Women Total Rel.Men Rel.Women Rel.Total
1 High income: nonOECD 305211765 114 118 232 0.374 0.387 0.76
2 High income: OECD 1070026367 652 606 1258 0.609 0.566 1.176
3 Lower middle income 2877289052 62 79 141 0.022 0.027 0.049
4 Upper middle income 2360827833 156 189 345 0.066 0.08 0.146
5 Low income 621977594 6 1 7 0.01 0.002 0.011

It is clear that there is direct correlation between income group and number of top tennis players – richer countries produce more tennis players. Couple charts below illustrate that point in more visual way.

Tennis and country income

As you see, High Income: OECD countries with total population just above 1 billion population produce collectively over 60% of players in men and women top 1000. The poorest countries with 600 million in population are home of just 7 top players.

Tennis and income - number of top tennis players per capita

In relative numbers the different between High and Low income is astonishing: 1.17 and 0.01 top tennis players per 1 million of population, over 100 times. Especially low is number of women from low income countries – there is only one among top 1000 players in this group (Valeria Bhunu from Zimbabwe).

So based on the numbers I have to agree that tennis is a sport for the rich, at list on country income level.

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