35 years of the Wimbledon Equipment Census


Market leading sports research consultancy SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. (SMS INC.) is delighted to announce that it has been retained to deliver the Wimbledon Equipment Census for the next three years.

The programme provides the definitive count of equipment used by all competitors competing at the Championships, including players in main draw singles, as well as athletes in the doubles, wheelchair, junior and veterans’ competitions. In 2017 SMS INC.’s on-site team tracked all 612 competitors throughout the fortnight.

The contract with the All England Lawn Tennis Club runs through to 2020. The 2020 edition will also mark SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC.’s 35th consecutive year of delivering the Wimbledon Census.

With 32 years of data and counting, the census offers an intriguing window into the recent history of tennis.

One clear trend in the racquet market has been the growing dominance of a few major brands. In last year’s census, the top three racquet brands, Babolat, Head and Wilson, accounted for a combined three quarters of all racquets at the Championships. In 1987, the figure was 41%, growing to 68% and 69% in 1997 and 2007 respectively, before increasing again in the last decade. Wilson has been the clear winner during this period – topping the count outright at 21 of the 32 tournaments.

Equally remarkably, one of that 2017 triumvirate, Babolat, only saw its first representation at the Championships in 1997, 12 years after the first census.

The results can also be used to shed light on the increasing diversity of nations represented at the top of the sport. In last year’s census, the top five nationalities represented 38% of entrants to the Championships. In 1987, the same proportion of participants came from just two countries, the USA and Australia. In total the top five nations (also UK, West Germany, Sweden) sent 57% of entrants thirty years ago.

SMS INC. Managing Director John Bushell commented: “At the heart of Wimbledon’s ongoing success is the way that it has continued to innovate whilst retaining all the best elements of its extensive traditions. We believe that SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. operates in the same way. Although the census methodology has deliberately remained very consistent over the years, our forward-thinking approach means that we constantly evolve all our services with new methodologies, metrics and analyses.

To give an example through the census, as more and more competitors now carry both racquet bags and additional equipment bags onto court, the study has expanded to record this information alongside data on racquets, strings, apparel and shoes used by the Wimbledon entrants. Likewise, the reporting now includes a separate assessment of the brands by time spent on show courts throughout the tournament – to help brands track the visibility of their investments on Wimbledon’s major televised arenas.”

The first census in 1985 saw a 17-year-old Boris Becker become the then youngest men’s Grand Slam singles champion and the first unseeded player to win the tournament. The German used a Puma G.Vilas racquet to claim his slice of history. Whilst the prospect of a repeat seems unlikely in 2018, SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. will be there to record it.


SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. is a full-service research agency specialising in the sports sector. Its extensive operations in tennis include the Wimbledon Census, as well as work with other Grand Slams and major events, tennis federations, retailers and manufacturers.

To discuss the Wimbledon Census, or to understand more about how research could benefit your business, please contact.
01932 345 539