You have probably never been asked this question nor have you ever thought about it. Why would you? If it weren’t for my recent deep dive into Pantone colors for the Jgame logo, it would never have crossed my mind either. Believe it or not there is a controversial debate as to what color tennis balls really are. Let’s “bounce” back in tennis history to see how this conundrum began.
In 1972 the International Tennis Federation (ITF) handed down an edict (this is no joke) that tennis balls should be yellow. For many years tennis balls had been white or black but the ITF changed this because viewers had trouble following the white balls on television. I’m not surprised that footballs, hockey pucks and basketballs aren’t white either - a white hockey puck on the ice would be impossible to track! I digress..let’s get back to tennis. The official name of the color of the ball is now “Optic Yellow”. The color spectrum however is a spectrum and if we borrow the United States political party analogy, if green is democratic and yellow is republican then the official Pantone color of tennis balls is what I would call a moderate. Many people in the tennis community have weighed in on this debate including Roger Federer (firmly team yellow).
Although many tennis ball manufacturers now produce tennis balls in different colors, for major competitions the ball color is still regulated by the ITF and officially yellow. I still think they look green. I wonder if Gatorade enthusiasts have this debate over their lemon lime flavor?