Objective: To examine the incidence of illness and highlight gender differences in tennis players competing in a major professional tennis tournament over a 16-year period between 1994 and 2009.
Design: Descriptive epidemiology study of illness trends in professional tennis players.
Setting: Archival data from the US Open Tennis Championships.
Participants: Participants in the US Open Tennis Championships main draw from 1994 to 2009.
Main outcome measures: Illness data collected at the US Open Tennis Championships between 1994 and 2009 were classified using guidelines presented in a sport-specific consensus statement. Each case was categorized according to the medical system effected and impact on play availability during the tournament. Illness rates were determined based on the exposure of an athlete to a match event and were calculated as the ratio of illness cases per 1000 match exposures (ME).
Results: The average number of illness cases over the 16-year period analyzed was 58.19 ± 12.02 per year (36.74 per 1000 ME) requiring assistance by the medical staff. Statistical analyses showed a significant fluctuation in illness cases related to the dermatological (DERM), gastrointestinal, renal/urogenital/gynecological, neurological, ophthalmic and otorhinolaryngological (ENT), and infectious medical systems (P < 0.05). The ENT and DERM conditions were the most commonly reported types of illness for both men and women.
Conclusions: Numerous medical systems are susceptible to illness in tennis players. Sport-specific factors may influence susceptibility to common illnesses experienced by professional tennis players.