When was Hawk-Eye first introduced to tennis?
Hawk-Eye was the brainchild of British inventor Dr. Paul Hawkins, who graduated from Durham University with a PhD in Artificial Intelligence in 1999 and once described himself as a ‘pretty reasonable cricketer’. Indeed, Hawk-Eye was originally intended as a cricket application and, in 2001, was first used by television broadcasters to analyse leg before wicket (lbw) decisions.
Neverthless, the principle of employing a network of computer-controlled cameras to ‘triangulate’ the position of a ball in three-dimensional space and calculate its probable trajectory, or path, is equally applicable to tennis. Nowadays, Hawk-Eye is used in tennis tournaments worldwide, not just as a broadcast enhancement aid, but as an officiating tool, on which chair umpires and line judges rely.
Hawk-Eye, as a line-calling system, made its debut in an Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour event at the Miami Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, Florida in 2006. Later that year, Hawk-Eye was put into operation at the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City. According to ‘Tennis Week’, ‘Hawk-Eye eliminated interminable arguments and verbal assaults on umpires and linesmen that became such a nightmare and a form of gamesmanship years ago.’