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Tennis Balls Are Bright Yellow Thanks, in Part, to Sir David Attenborough — Here's Why

The British broadcaster played a role in changing the color of tennis balls, which were initially black or white

<p>Tim P. Whitby/Getty; Getty</p> Sir David Attenborough, a tennis ball.

Tim P. Whitby/Getty; Getty

Sir David Attenborough, a tennis ball.

Tennis balls are the bright yellow color that they are known for today, thanks in part to Sir David Attenborough.

In an article penned for The Radio Times, the British broadcaster and naturalist, 97, said that, as controller for BBC channel BBC2 in 1968, he was responsible for bringing color television to the U.K. for the first time that year.

"We had been asking the government over and over again, and they wouldn’t allow us, until suddenly they said, 'Yes, okay, you can have [color television technology], and what’s more you’re going to have it in nine months’ time,' or whatever it was," Attenborough wrote, explaining that the United States and Japan already had the advancement.

He later decided that Wimbledon would be the perfect event to utilize color television for the first time, revealing in the The Radio Times, "I mean, it is a wonderful plot: you’ve got drama, you’ve got everything. And it’s a national event, it’s got everything going for it."

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<p>Rob Pinney/Getty</p> Sir David Attenborough.

Rob Pinney/Getty

Sir David Attenborough.

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But, while watching Wimbledon on TV in color for the first time in his role as BBC2 controller, Attenborough found that the tennis balls weren't visible enough on screen, according to the book 2,024 QI Facts To Stop You In Your Tracks, per HuffPost.

Those used initially were black or white, depending on the background color of the courts, according to the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The ITF then changed the color of the balls in 1972.

Wimbledon, however, continued to use the white tennis ball in the years to follow, before eventually adopting the yellow balls in 1986, the ITF said.

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