Longevity of Wimbledon champions suggests game is key to living longer

Ace news for tennis players: Longevity of Wimbledon champions suggests the game is key to living longer, study shows

  • Longevity of Sporting Legends study claims male athletes live 13 per cent longer
  • Research, due to be launched on June 10, points to 96 per cent survival rate of the 45 elite players who have contested the Wimbledon final since 1960
  • Study based on analysis of birth and death registers of 752 leading sportsmen
  • Calculated from lifespan for the population, elite athletes born in the same year

The longevity of Wimbledon champions suggests the game is key to living longer, a new study has revealed. 

The Longevity of Sporting Legends report, due to be launched on June 10, reveals elite male tennis players live 13 per cent longer than the average person of their age and gender.  

The research points to the astonishing 96 per cent survival rate of the 45 sporting stars who have contested the Wimbledon final since 1960 – only two have died. 

If tennis players lived the same number of years as an average male, more than a third of that number would have died by now. 

The longevity of Wimbledon champions suggests the game is key to living longer, a new study has revealed

Among a raft of 90-something former tennis players is 97-year-olds Vic Seixas, the oldest surviving grand slam champion, and Budge Patty, his younger by six months. 

Elite tennis players are expected to live an extra ten years compared to their lay counterparts, according to the study. 

It is good news for the likes of 39-year-old Roger Federer, who will compete for a record ninth grand slam trophy in the summer.      


If tennis stars lived the same number of years as an average male, more than a third of that the 45 surviving Wimbledon finalists, such as 97-year-old Vic Seixas (left), would have died by now. It is good news for the likes of 39-year-old Roger Federer, (right) who will compete for a record ninth grand slam trophy in the summer

Tennis – 10 years

Badminton – Six years

Football – Nearly five years

Cycling –  Nearly four years

Swimmers, joggers, and strength trainers – Nearly four years

‘Health club activities’ – Under two years

Stars of several other sports –  rugby, cricket, golf, horse racing, football – can also expect extended lifespans compared to their contemporaries.     

One exception, however, was boxing – a sport known for leading to head injuries. 

Head of global research at the International Longevity Centre UK Les Mayhew said the research was based on analysis of birth and death registers of 752 leading sportsmen, The Sunday Times reported.

Records for Wimbledon singles finalists; football, rugby, and cricket captains; Open Golf Championship winners; heavyweight boxing champions; and Epsom Derby winning jockeys, were all examined in the report.  

Neither female athletes nor sports such as snooker and darts were studied for the report due to on partial records. 

Mayhew made adjustments to account for the difference in medicine and science between the earliest records, from the Victorian era, and present day. 

He calculated expected lifespan based on life expectancy for the general population and elite athletes born in the same year.   

Former elite athletes Brendan Foster, Alan Smith, and Baroness Grey-Thompson will speak at the report’s launch on June 10. 

It follows a Danish study which made similar differences between people who did and did not exercise regularly. 

It follows a Danish study which made similar differences between people who did and did not exercise regularly

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