The Real Reason Tennis Balls are Yellow

There are people who assumed that tennis balls were always yellow. There are also people who look at tennis balls and think they are green, but that's a whole other story. The color of tennis balls is officially "optic yellow," but up until 1972, they were white, or occasionally black.

In the 1960s, color television was starting to really take off, and the head of BBC Two, David Attenborough, was keen on color, and arranged for the 1967 Wimbledon tournament to be broadcast in color. Attenborough was pleased with the broadcast, but noticed that it was hard to follow the ball, especially when it was close to the white court lines. Something had to be done, like making the balls yellow. In 1972, the International Tennis Federation commissioned a study in visibility, and thereafter decreed that tennis balls were to be either white or yellow. Televised tournaments adopted yellow balls immediately, with one exception- Wimbledon. That ultra-traditional tournament resisted the change until 1986!

Today, tennis balls come in all colors, but if you are going to compete professionally, or on television, the balls will be optic yellow.  -via Kottke

(Image credit: Babolat)

 


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