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All eyes on Wimbledon, including Hawk-eye

Inspired by the possibilities of slicing a ball across a net, Brits devised the modern, outdoor game of tennis. Major Walter Clopton Wingfield, who combined a methodical mind with a highly commendable determination to amuse his guests, inaugurated the modern rules of lawn tennis in 1873. In less than a decade, men in white flannels, rapidly followed by women, were crying 'Ready?' 'Play' in Britain, America, and Europe.

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club is the venue for Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament in the world. The world's most prestigious tennis tournament lasts for two weeks, subject to extensions for rain, which seem highly likely at the present time. If gales do not delay play, Wimbledon opens tomorrow.

Tennis played on grass is always a unique pleasure for viewers. This year a different set of eyes will be scouring the lawn lines as well.

In 1999 Paul Hawkins was a sportsman with a recently acquired PhD in artificial intelligence. In the mysterious recesses of his intelligence, cricket balls, cameras and disputed calls converged, and he invented the multi-camera system called Hawk-eye which electronically tracks the flight of a moving ball. This summer Hawk-eye becomes part of the umpiring process on Centre Court and No.1 Court at Wimbledon, displaying the results on a big screen visible to spectators when players challenge a call.

I love hearing the thwack of a tennis racquet meeting a ball. What would summer be like without all those games dreamed up by Brits – golf, cricket, badminton, croquet. Father’s Day saw my family swinging mallets and searching for lost croquet balls. . .

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