Why Are Tennis Courts Blue?

blue tennis court

With the Australian Open in full swing, I’ve been watching the tennis highlights every day.

My money is on Djokovic on the men’s side (although I think Tsitsipas might win a major tournament this year…so it could be this one) and probably Halep for the women.

Let’s see if I’m right in a week or so 🙂

The Aussie Open is the first of the four main tennis events of the year; Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the U.S Open make up the other three. These tournaments are played on 3 different surfaces which each have their own advantages and disadvantages to play on.

grass tennis court

Wimbledon is played on grass, and traditionally serve and volley players do well here, but with improvements in racket technology it’s meant baseline players like Djokovic and Nadal can also succeed by adapting their game slightly.

The French Open is played on clay and it demands incredible fitness, while you need to possess a wide array of shots as the rallies tend to last a lot longer.

clay tennis court

For the other 2 events, the Australian Open and the U.S Open, these are played on hard courts, which as a surface lies inbetween grass and clay in terms of speed, but it can put more strain on your legs and knees, so you have to be in great shape physically.

However, one of the most striking things for me as I watch the Australian Open 2020 is the brilliant blue colour of the courts.

Why is this the case?

In this blog post, I will look at why some tennis hard courts are blue, and why they’ve moved away from the traditional green and red colours.

Why are some tennis courts blue? Here are some reasons why many hard courts have switched to this colour.

Why are tennis courts different colours anyway?

It might seem obvious, but for some tennis court surfaces there isn’t much choice in terms of changing the colour. Grass is green, so for lawn tennis there is no choice to move away from this.

For clay courts, they are always red because of the clay material used to construct them.

Some venues have tried experimenting with other colours such as at the Madrid Open which used blue clay in 2012, but some of the top players really objected to this, and it swiftly returned back to red the year after.

Hard courts used to adopt red and green colours too, maybe as a way to acknowledge the traditional colours of the other tennis court surfaces, but as you may have noticed both the US Open and Australian Open have switched to blue.   

Here’s why…

green and red hard tennis court

Why are some tennis courts blue?

There are essentially two reasons for this..

1. It makes it easier for the players and spectators to see the ball.

Tennis balls are a bright yellow/green colour and although they are quite easy to see, it’s even easier when the background colour provides a good contrast.

If you look at a colour wheel, blue and purple are directly opposite to yellow and green, so when you have tennis balls zipping across the court at 100mph, you’re going to see things better when the game is played on either of these colours.

Furthermore, it’s not just for the benefit of spectators and players at the game, it also makes things better for the TV viewer at home, who inject most of the money into the game with TV advertising.

2. Better commercial branding for the U.S Open

When the US Open switched to the blue court, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) decided to switch all the hard courts to blue at major tennis events in the US.

In 2005, when the US Open switched to the blue colour, the chief executive Arlen Kantarian said:

“The new court colors have been tested and proven to enhance visibility of the ball for both players and fans. In addition, it provides an instant visual link between the US Open Series tournaments and the U.S. Open, helping to create a unified ‘regular season’ for tennis leading up to the U.S. Open.”

Source: https://www.espn.com/sports/tennis/news/story?id=2061498

Using colour as a brand is not a novel idea in any industry, but the purple and green colour combination has been associated with Wimbledon for many years, so this switch to blue courts was an interesting strategy to make the US Open more visually appealing.

Has it worked?

Well, according to the TV viewing figures…absolutely.

In 2019, the US Open was watched by an average of 1.275 million people which was 23% higher than 2018.

Attendance is also up at the US Open.

In 2005, it was 659,538 visitors and that’s steadily increased to 737,872 in 2019 (with the odd little dip in some years)

FAQs

When did the US and Australian Open switch to a blue court?

The U.S Open switched to a blue court in 2005, and the Australian Open in 2008.

What are blue tennis courts made of?

They are made from asphalt, which forms a base and then they are coated in a synthetic material. Other materials are used to make clay, carpet and grass tennis courts

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Author: Graham Scott

Graham runs the place around here. He likes making a "little noise" about all things to do with tennis and parenting. Check out his about page to learn more.

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