Why are tennis balls yellow? Tennis is a complex sport with a long list of rules and specifications that MUST be respected in professional tennis. We rarely ask ourselves why the rules are like this and not otherwise. This is the case with the color of the tennis balls. Most people will not remember or have heard before that the balls have not always been an optical yellow, which is their exact color, but have had many colors, mainly white.

Then why are tennis balls yellow?

Basically, the main reason is the arrival of colour television in the 1970s. The International Tennis Federation received much criticism from traditional tournaments such as the famous Wimbledon championship that were the last to adopt this new color in their emblematic tournament. Just as their clothing had to be white, they wanted the tennis balls to be white as well. The new rule was not implemented directly but since 1972 was adapted gradually until after more than 14 years, not everyone used this new color tone, buy many more than before.  

Tie break man

But why yellow balls?

Since television was formerly broadcast in black and white, there was no problem with tennis balls being white, but when colour television appeared, the ITF and most tennis viewers realised that the trajectory of the ball was not as distinguishable as before and it was difficult to follow the trail of the tennis ball when watching tennis matches. Because of this, the ITF convened a specialist group to investigate which colour would be best to suit the new era of colour television. Over time, they discovered “optical yellow” and that is why today all tennis balls are dyed this unique shade.  

  But of course, the controversy is always there, many people argue among themselves if the balls are really yellow or if they are a more greenish shade or even garish pistachio. It is true that the balls, as they degrade over time, become a more greenish and pale tone.

white tennis balls

But what is true is that optical yellow is the official color used to distinguish the path of the ball on the tennis court through television broadcasts. In the old days, a tennis match with white balls looked like this:

Other facts about tennis balls

Tennis balls have to have very precise specifications in order to be used in official ATP and WTA tournaments. The colour is only one part, also the ITF requires that the balls weigh between 56 and 59.4 grams; that their material is rubber with a fibrous felt coating and finally that their measurements are between 6.54 and 6.86 centimetres in diameter.    

You know why are tennis balls yellow, now, keep investigating other aspects of tennis on our blog!

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