Skip to main contentSkip to footer

The fascinating reason why tennis balls are bright yellow in colour

The 'optic yellow' ball was a winner out of an array of colours

11 July 2017
Share this:

Tennis has been around in its various shapes and forms since the 1870s, but the sport has soured in popularity in the UK ever since Andy Murray's 2013 Wimbledon win - repeated again in 2016 - which firmly secured tennis as a favourite in the hearts and minds of the nation.

Something which might be playing on our minds as we eagerly follow Andy's plight over the next week are those little yellow tennis balls, and why exactly they are that peculiar shade of fluorescent yellow.

wimbledon tennis ball© Photo: Getty Images

Tennis balls of the 'optic yellow' colour, it turns out, were not introduced into Wimbledon until 1986. Before this, they were most often white. When people would watch the tennis at home back in the days of black and white TV, it was thought that the white colour of the ball would be easiest to spot against the dark colour of the black court.

But the advent of colour TV meant that viewers found it increasingly difficult to track the ball on their screens. And so in 1972 the International Tennis Federation made the decision to introduce a brighter more fluorescent colour.

After a host of trials, during which colours such as fluorescent orange were considered, it was decided that the hue best suited for TV audiences was a bright florescent yellow, better known as 'optic yellow'. The All England club then decided to formally bring the colour to Wimbledon in 1986.

Sign up to HELLO Daily! for the best royal, celebrity and lifestyle coverage

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.

More Travel

See more