3 Engineering Feats That Make Wimbledon Possible
The World Cup certainly gave us some surprises this summer and Wimbledon has had one or two of its own, with favourite Roger Federer knocked out in the quarterfinals. As Andy Murray sits in the commentary box, hopes for a thrilling semi-final rest on Nadal and Djokovic as they go toe to toe on the grass this afternoon.
However, none of this would be possible without the behind the scenes engineering innovations that make the game so great. We take a look at three of these:
Hawk-Eye has been an integral part of tennis since 2002 and continues to truly enhance the game for federations, tournaments, broadcasters, sponsors, academics and fans.
Used in over 80 tournaments around the world, Hawk-Eye’s ITF approved Electronic Line Calling service takes the doubt out of close line calls by using the most sophisticated and accurate (to the millimetre) ball tracking cameras to identify whether a ball has bounced in or out.
Using a technology called Computer Vision (central to speed cameras and robotics), the system measures the bounce point of the ball relative to the global coordinates of the tennis court, and then tries to infer the position of that bounce point relative to the line. These ball location estimates are then combined with ball ballistics (i.e. the rise in temperature caused by the collision of the ball on the ground).
This electronic judging mostly gets it right - more often than humans do - but there are no absolutes.
Centre Court Roof
Gone are the days of having to watch the game at Wimbledon under a murky, rain-filled sky with the new all-weather multi-million-pound motorised roof. The enclosed environment that took three years to build provides the players with fantastic and most importantly, dry playing conditions when the weather is unfavourable.
The translucent roof takes a total of eight minutes to close, controlled by variable-speed drivers to ensure it moves at no more than 214mm per second. It weighs a staggering 3,000 tonnes and stands 16 metres above the court surface. Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Tim Henman and Kim Clijsters were the first players to play under the new structure, which opened on 17th May 2009.
Real-Time Performance Data
In professional tennis, players and coaches can now access real-time performance data on an iPad during live match play. The software provides insight to help players and coaches analyse the performance of players and optimise the strategy accordingly. It could potentially be the difference between winning and losing a match – or even a championship.
At the Wimbledon 2017 championship, it is estimated that a huge 53,713,514 data points were analysed. The data is used in many different ways including delivering historical perspective, live stats, predictive analytics, serve direction and much more.