With 2020 Australian Open underway, this week we’ll be reviziting a beautiful viz from Kate Schaub, published on May 5, 2019. The viz, which has a really cool poster-like feel to it, is titled ‘Serena – The Greatest of All Time’ and it covers the amazing career of tennis superstar, Serena Williams. Let’s get started!First off, just take a step back and zoom out a bit to get a nice full shot of the viz. I really appreciate how well Kate thought through the design and layout of the visualization, as it flows together so well. Alright, let’s see what makes this a great data visualization.
What makes this great data viz?
- Design/Layout – As we just touched on, the visualization is laid out really well, in an order that makes it easy for the reader to follow.
- Top section – this section features the title in an absolutely awesome font, while also including Serena’s personal information, ranking by year and some KPIs centered around her titles won and career earnings. Serena’s personal info in the upper left-hand corner is a nice touch, providing us with a little background on Serena Williams the person, before getting into Serena Williams, the tennis superstar. Next, we move onto year end ranking. Kate nails the chart choice here, given the theme, as the circles resemble tennis balls and the line chart gives the effect of the path of the ball. It’s amazing to see how many years Serena was ranked in the Top 7 (15 out of 22 years) and I also love how her 2006 ranking of 95th makes it look as though the ball is bouncing; very cool! Lastly, Kate includes some nice and clean KPIs that provide three key metrics; Grand Slam Titles, WTA Titles and Prize Money.
- Middle section – After reading the KPI section, my first thought is what Grand Slams has Serena won and how many of each. I like the use of icons here displayed as unit charts, as seeing the actual trophy/medal Serena won adds a little something that we wouldn’t get had Kate gone with a plain circle or square in her unit chart. This also adds to the poster feel, I like it a lot. We can easily see that Serena’s won the Australian Open and Wimbledon seven times apiece, as well as the U.S. Open six times.
- Bottom section – In this section, Kate provides more detail around Serena’s seventy-two WTA titles. The lollipop charts again give us the tennis ball feel and we can see that Williams started her career with a bang, winning twenty-five titles by the age of 23. However, her career appears to regress from age 24-29, which makes me wonder what happened? A quick Wikipedia search and it looks like Williams battled several injuries during this stage of her career. We then see her reaching peak dominance in her early to mid-thirties, before regressing again in her late thirties. This regression can be attributed to Serena’s pregnancy, which saw her miss almost the entire 2017 season. Lastly, I feel the image of Serena fits well in between the lollipops and the radial chart, which shows Serena’s titles won by playing surface.
- White Space – Kate does a really nice job of packing a ton of information into the viz, while not making it feel cluttered. She leverages white space to give each section of the visualization plenty of breathing room.
- Excellent Use of Color – Whether you see yellow or green, let’s just agree that the way the tennis ball color pops against the black background is a thing of beauty! Kate nailed it with this combination and another thing she did very well is to not overuse the large attention grabbing font. She placed it only where she wanted to guide the readers attention; beginning with the title and then the names of the Grand Slams, sticking with a smaller, more basic font for the other headers. She also uses the popping tennis ball color for the two main charts, very well done.
- Tooltips Provide Context – Tooltips are a powerful Tableau feature and particularly viz in tooltips, when used effectively. If we think back to Kate’s use of white space, we can see in the image below that her use of viz in tooltips helps prevent the viz itself from being cluttered. However, the tooltips pack even more insightful information into the viz. When I saw the viz for the first time, I remember thinking, “I wonder how many Grand Slams and how much Prize Money Serena has won compared to everyone else?” Well, wouldn’t you know, Kate included that very information through her use of viz in tooltips. The reader can also see who Serena defeated for each of her Grand Slams, as well as the score.
At the end of the day, this is a really cool visualization that should be framed and hanging on a wall somewhere. It’s pleasing to look at, designed very well and tells the story of one of the greatest athletes of all time. Great work, Kate!