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Are there yellow tennis balls?

Yellow tennis balls are a very common sight on tennis courts around the world. But why are tennis balls yellow? And are there other color options available?

Quick Answers

Yes, the vast majority of tennis balls used in competitive play are yellow. This is due to standards set by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and other tennis organizations. However, non-yellow tennis balls do exist for recreational and novelty use.

History of Tennis Ball Color

In the early days of lawn tennis in the 1870s, tennis balls could be white, black or even red. But in 1972, the ITF mandated that all tennis balls used in official competition must be a uniform yellow color. This removed the variation that existed with white tennis balls which could go from white to gray as they got dirty. The yellow color was also found to be more visible on television broadcasts which were growing in popularity.

Yellow balls replaced white balls as the standard, but exactly how yellow was still open to interpretation. Different manufacturers produced tennis balls ranging from a pale yellow to a deep neon yellow. So in 1986, the ITF introduced a color guideline for tennis balls to standardize the sport. Known as “Optic Yellow”, this color specification has a very precise definition to ensure all tennis balls look the same color on television and to players.

Why are Tennis Balls Yellow?

There are several practical reasons why yellow became the standard color of tennis balls:

  • Increased Visibility – Yellow stands out better against varied backgrounds like grass, clay and concrete courts. The ball is easier for players to see and track during play.
  • Consistent Wear – As balls get dirty from use, the yellow color hides scuff marks better compared to white balls.
  • Less Eye Strain – Neon yellow balls are easier on the eyes to see and focus on over long matches and avoid eye fatigue.
  • Television Appeal – Yellow shows up well on TV, making tennis more appealing to broadcast.

Beyond these practical factors, yellow tennis balls also became a tradition and standard for the sport. Pro events like Wimbledon and the US Open exclusively use yellow balls. For most professional tennis players and fans, a yellow ball just looks right and feels part of the game.

Are There Non-Yellow Tennis Balls?

While nearly all competitive tennis uses the standard yellow ball, they are not the only ball color available. For recreational and informal play, tennis balls come in a variety of colors:

  • White – The original tennis ball color and still used for vintage tennis events.
  • Orange – Increased visibility and often used for kids and beginners.
  • Red – A bold, eye-catching color that stands out on any court.
  • Green – The same color as grass courts, used at some country clubs.
  • Pink – Used for breast cancer charity events and greater visibility.
  • Blue -Sold mostly as a novelty item rather than competitive play.
  • Black – Also more of a novelty, sold around Halloween.

These non-traditional colored balls serve recreational players looking for variety or making a statement. But for competitive play, the standard yellow ball is still required by the rules of tennis.

Differences Between Yellow and Non-Yellow Balls

Aside from color, there are a few other differences between regulation yellow balls and recreational colored balls:

Ball Type Color Felt Standards Uses
Regulation Yellow Fuzzy ITF approved Competition
Colored Varies Less fuzzy Not approved Recreational

The main differences come down to regulation felt and approval standards. The colored novelty balls tend to have less fuzzy felt which affects how they bounce and play. And none of the colored balls would pass official ITF standards for approving tennis balls. But the colored balls aren’t meant for serious competitive play anyway.

Are Colored Balls Legal for Competition?

For ITF, USTA, NCAA and most competitive tennis, only regulation Optic Yellow balls are legal for play. Some exceptions exist at the recreational league or high school level where colored balls may be permitted. But any officially sanctioned event will mandate standard yellow balls.

Pro and college players are quite accustomed to yellow balls. Even if colored balls are easier to see, introducing them now to top-level play would be seen as disruptive. At recreational levels, colored balls are legal and add some flair to informal matches and charity events.

Purchasing Non-Yellow Tennis Balls

Finding alternative colored tennis balls takes a bit more searching than yellow. Here are some options for buying recreational colored tennis balls:

  • Online sporting goods stores like Tennis Express and Dick’s Sporting Goods carry various colored balls.
  • Check with your local pro shop or tennis facility – they may stock colored balls for variety or have connections for custom orders.
  • Search by color on Amazon for tennis balls and many options appear.
  • Manufacturers like Penn and Wilson make colored balls distributed to retailers.

The supply tends to be lower for colored balls, so expect to pay a couple dollars more per can compared to bulk yellow balls. But the different look and feel of colored balls can add some extra fun to a casual tennis match.


While yellow tennis balls are the overwhelming standard used in top-level competitive play, recreational players do have options when it comes to ball color. Colored tennis balls provide an interesting alternative for more casual play or making a statement on the court. But for professional tennis, expect the traditional yellow ball to continue to be the required choice.