Tennis balls are fluorescent yellow thanks to David Attenborough

Tennis balls are fluorescent yellow thanks to David Attenborough

Tennis balls are yellow because of David Attenborough

Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe-WPA Pool/Getty Images and iStockphoto by Getty Images

Back in the day, there was a time when tennis balls weren't the vibrant yellow colour we're all used to - but did you know it was national treasure David Attenborough who contributed to this change?

Before the fluorescent balls we see on our screens today, tennis balls were black or white from the late 1880s until the 1970s (though Wimbledon kept them until 1986).

The colour of the tennis ball depended on the colour of the court - a light ball for a dark court and a dark ball for a light court.

However, Attenborough who had been working for the BBC as a controller for BBC 2 in 1967 had the job of introducing colour and noticed that bringing colour to the match coverage made it difficult to spot the tennis ball.

The ball could have looked very different if it weren't for Attenborough Julian Finney/Getty Images

"We had been asking the government over and over again and they wouldn’t allow us, until suddenly they said, ‘Yes, OK, you can have [the colour TV technology], and what’s more you’re going to have it in nine months’ time,’ or whatever it was,” he told RadioTimes.

As a result, the 'optic yellow' ball was approved by the International Tennis Federation in 1972, and Wimbledon would adopt the ball colour 14 years later.

This fun fact comes as the Australian Open is in full swing from Jan 7-28.

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