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WIMBLEDON

How often do they change the tennis balls in a match and why do they do it?

The 2022 Wimbledon Championships are in their finals days and tens of thousands of tennis balls have been used at the All England Club over the last weeks.

Update:
The 2022 Wimbledon Championships are in their finals days and tens of thousands of tennis balls have been used at the All England Club over the last weeks.
ADRIAN DENNISAFP

The Wimbledon Championships have been around for almost 140 years. While the tournament is seeped in history and tradition, if you look around the grounds at the All England Club everything seems to be new. Even the tennis balls.

Nothing like the sound of opening a can of balls

The grass is green and lush, the players white outfits are impeccably pressed and stainless. And the balls have a pop to them that is just as audible on TV as it is inside of Center Court in Wimbledon.

That sound of the tennis ball popping off the racket is familiar to any tennis player, from preteen summer campers to Wimbledon champions. Even novices like me can appreciate the sound and smell of a fresh can of balls.

In the pros, players are afforded many luxuries that you and me aren’t so lucky to enjoy. They have ball boys and girls for example. You and I have to chase our unforced errors around the court making sure we don’t slip on them during the next point.

ATP and ITF have strict rules when it comes to their balls

They have line judges, and chair umpires, while we are forced to argue calls. They also get new tennis balls on a constant basis, while we are forced to hit the same balls that we ripped out of the dog’s mouth before getting to the court.

Maybe my tennis experiences aren’t the same as someone who takes it more seriously and pays a monthly fee to be a member of a club, but even those club members are usually hitting the same pack or two of balls for the entirety of their match.

In the pros, according to ATP and ITF rules, the first set of balls are to be used for the first seven games, and then balls are changed every ninth game thereafter. Each ball chance consists of two sleeves, or six balls.

Over 50,000 used at Wimbledon

Throughout the course of the Wimbledon Championships, there are tens of thousands of balls that are used from qualifiers all the way up to the final Sunday at Center Court. Back in 2018 there were a total of 54,520 balls used at the All England Club.

In Wimbledon, balls are not just tossed away after their tournament life is done. The balls are collected and resold at the championship kiosk, for fans to take home a piece of memorabilia. Each sleeve of three balls is sold for £2.50 and the proceeds go back towards the Wimbledon Foundation’s charity work.

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