3 Reasons You Should Bet on Women’s Tennis
Tennis is the most popular individual sport in the world, and there are literally thousands of professional tennis tournaments each year. This means non-stop action for those interested in women’s tennis betting!
A Brief History of the WTA
Founded in 1973 by tennis legend Billie Jean King, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) now has more than 1,600 players competing for over $180 million in prize money each year.
The most lucrative tennis tournaments – and the ones people are the most familiar with – are the four annual Grand Slam events:
- Australian Open
- French Open
- US Open
Naturally, the Grand Slams attract the most media attention and the most betting volume.
The men’s and women’s draws are played simultaneously at the Grand Slams and four other premier mandatory tournaments each year, with equal prize money offered to both genders. The men’s Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Tour and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour play most other tournaments separately and for different amounts of prize money, with a few exceptions.
A key difference between the men’s and women’s games is the number of sets played. Women’s tennis matches are always played as best-of-three sets, whereas the men play best-of-five sets at the Grand Slams. We’ll explain why this is important later on.
#1: Greater Parity than Men’s Tennis
You might be thinking, “That’s an oddly specific time frame,” and “Does this affect wagering?” Well, yes, it is, and yes, it does.
In hindsight, Wimbledon 2003 ushered in an unprecedented era in men’s tennis. Swiss legend Roger Federer won his first Grand Slam title and danced with women’s winner Serena Williams at the Champions Ball.
Since then, Federer and his two other “Big Three” rivals – Rafael Nadal of Spain and Novak Djokovic of Serbia – have won a whopping 57 of the past 69 Grand Slams. The level of sustained dominance and longevity shown by each of these three men is remarkable in its own right. It’s particularly special because their careers have overlapped for over a decade.
And if you think they’re slowing down, they are not. The Big Three have won 14 of the 15 Grand Slam events in the past four years. In that time, the only exception to their rule was Dominic Thiem’s breakthrough at the US Open in 2020.
Since Wimbledon 2003, just 11 different men have won a Grand Slam in singles. By contrast, 27 different women won in that same time span. Serena Williams has certainly been dominant – she has 23 slams, after all – but many other women have hoisted a major singles trophy during her career.
The greater variance in women’s tennis is at least partly explained by the fact that women always play best-of-three sets whereas men play best-of-five at Grand Slams. The more sets played, the greater the favorite’s probability of winning. Therefore, male tennis stars have more chances to exert their superiority over their opponent than female players do.
Generally, greater parity means that women’s tennis has:
- Better chances of an underdog pulling off an upset
- Better chances of a long-shot futures bet actually paying off
- Better payouts if you prefer to bet on favorites
Here’s an example with actual odds from the 2019 US Open finals. Both draws culminated with a young star against an aging legend. Interestingly, both were also a rematch of the 2019 Rogers Cup final, held a month prior.
On the men’s side, we had Daniil Medvedev (+408) against Rafael Nadal (-587). On the women’s side, Bianca Andreescu (+220) versus Serena Williams (-275).
2019 US Open Final Odds
|$100 Bet On:||Moneyline:||Potential Winnings:|
What actually happened? Nadal outlasted Medvedev in the fifth set, 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4. Andreescu denied Williams the chance to win a record-setting 24th Grand Slam title, winning in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5.
It is simply much harder to beat the best players in a five-set format. Best-of-three gives underdogs a fighting chance at an upset. Consequently, you get a solid chance at a decent payout.
Those who enjoy betting on futures can take inspiration from women’s tennis handicapper Gavin Mair, who famously called Naomi Osaka winning the 2018 US Open at 32-1 odds, or in American odds, +3200. The pre-tournament outright odds on the men’s draw winner, Novak Djokovic, were +320 – a tenfold difference in the payout. Sure, you can swing for the fences on a male underdog, but recent history shows the Big Three are heavy favorites for a reason.
Case Study: 2021 Australian Open Outrights
A quick look at the 2021 Australian Open futures odds illustrates the relative parity of the women’s game compared to the men’s. These lines were taken from PointsBet Sportsbook on Monday, December 7, 2020, and display the odds of a player winning the tournament outright.
A few key takeaways:
- PointsBet has listed 42 different outcomes on the women’s side versus 27 different outcomes on the men’s. Remember, we are trying to predict who might win the Australian Open in 2021. At the time of writing, this sportsbook thinks there are significantly fewer men who stand a chance of winning than women.
- PointsBet has Novak Djokovic listed at +110 to win the Australian Open again in 2021. This converts to a 47.6 percent chance of him winning seven straight matches at the tournament. Granted, he’s won seven of the last 10 Aussie Open’s.
- Four men – including one who has never won a Grand Slam – have shorter odds than the current women’s favorite, Naomi Osaka, who won her third slam just three months ago at the US Open.
What does all this mean? Women’s tennis has greater variance than men’s tennis. Bettors should remember that it’s easier for underdogs to pull off an upset in a three-set format. Or, if betting on favorites is your thing, you’ll likely find better payouts on the women’s side.
#2: Less Scrutiny From Oddsmakers
As top sportsbooks continue to expand their offerings, they must decide where to concentrate their handicapping efforts. As you can imagine, due to the huge amounts of cash coming in from the most popular betting markets, such as the NFL and the NBA, sportsbooks keep tighter control over the lines for these sports in order to protect their bottom line.
While the tennis betting market is growing, the sport still falls outside of the top 10 most popular sports markets to bet on in the United States. According to research conducted by Sports Betting Dime, approximately 14 percent of American bettors wager on tennis.
Small market sports such as tennis don’t receive nearly as much scrutiny from oddsmakers, and their lines aren’t adjusted as frequently. Line shoppers may notice a little less consistency between betting sites as a result.
With so many matches and individual players to keep track of, you can find favorable tennis lines if you pay more attention than the sportsbooks. Bettors who want to specialize their handicapping in women’s tennis may find even more of an edge due to most sportsbooks’ predominant focus on men’s sports.
#3: Most Frequent and Accessible Opportunity to Bet on Women’s Sports
Tennis is widely regarded as the professional sport with the greatest gender parity in terms of TV coverage, prize money, and respect. As such, tennis is also the most frequent and accessible opportunity to bet on women’s sports. Betting on women’s tennis may be of particular interest to female bettors, #GirlDads, and anyone who wishes to see greater equity for women in sport.
The year-round nature of the professional tennis circuit offers non-stop action for bettors, whereas most other women’s sports are played less frequently. Some women’s sports can be difficult to find on sports betting websites, whereas women’s tennis lines are widely available. Plus, tennis offers additional in-play betting types and fun prop bets that can add to the excitement of watching a match.
It’s easy to find some value in women’s tennis odds, especially if you know the tendencies of certain players.
Added Bonus: Strength of American Women in Tennis
American tennis fans are probably aware that betting on top American players is more likely to pay off on the women’s side. An American man has not won a Grand Slam singles title since 2003. That year, Andre Agassi won his eighth and final slam (the Australian Open), and Andy Roddick won his first and only slam (the US Open).
By contrast, American women have won 22 Grand Slams in the past 16 years, largely thanks to Venus and Serena Williams. More recently, Sloane Stephens took home the 2017 US Open, and Sofia Kenin is the reigning Australian Open champion.
The Williams sisters have forever changed women’s tennis with their power game, service excellence, and their ongoing fight for equal pay and racial justice. Their remarkable tennis careers have spanned over 25 years each. Collectively, Venus and Serena have won 30 Grand Slam singles titles and more than $130 million in prize money. They’ve also teamed up for 14 Grand Slam doubles titles.
Find Success Betting on Women’s Tennis
Tennis offers year-round betting opportunities and a variety of tennis wager types including live in-play. There’s plenty of value to be found, and we encourage bettors to take a hard look at women’s tennis in particular.
There’s a lot to know about betting on tennis, but Sports Betting Dime has you covered. Our How to Bet on Sports section has a series of articles full of advice to help you make informed wagers every single time.
Enjoy the action out there!