Pros switch on hi-tech racquets in time for Wimbledon

Tue May 13, 2014 11:58am EDT
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By Ossian Shine

LONDON (Reuters) - A handful of the world's best tennis players will show up at tournaments within weeks armed with new technology they hope will give them an advantage at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, the man behind the 'smart racquets' has told Reuters.

Without identifying the players who would be first to wield the hi-tech weapons, Eric Babolat confirmed "connected racquets", with sensors feeding back information on the players' forehands, backhands and much more besides, would be swung in anger for the first time, after a decade in development.

"It could be any week. We have a lot of players testing. It is going to happen very soon," Babolat told Reuters in an interview at Britain’s National Tennis Centre in south-west London.

"It is a question of days, not months."

Declared legal by the guardians of the sport, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), who adopted a new rule covering the technology at the start of the year, selected Babolat racquets will feature data-collecting sensors in their handles,

"Quite simply, this is information like we have never been able to get before," smiled Babolat, scion of the French tennis manufacturing empire built out of a 19th century family business making sausage skins, surgical sutures and piano strings from animal gut.

"It is information direct from the racquet, from the string bed, and it tells us exactly what is happening, not just a feeling from the player.


Eric Babolat, CEO and Chairman of Babolat, poses for a photograph holding a hi-tech, 'connected' tennis racquet at Britain's National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, south-west London, May 12, 2014.   REUTERS/Ossian Shine