The tennis balls used at Wimbledon travelled 50,570 miles around the world before they landed on Andy Murray’s racket on Centre Court.
Slazenger is a quintessentially British sports equipment manufacturer and has been the official ball supplier for Wimbledon since 1902, with its headquarters based at Shirebrook in Derbyshire.
But their official Wimbledon ball flies between 11 countries and across four continents before being manufactured in Bataan in the Philippines and then travelling the final 6,660 miles to London.
The tennis ball uses materials from the USA, New Zealand, China, Greece, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, and Indonesia.
Dr. Mark Johnson, Associate Professor of Operations Management at Warwick Business School, has looked into the supply chain of the Wimbledon tennis ball and unearthed the surprisingly long and complex journey to one of the world’s biggest sporting events.
“It is one of the longest journeys I have seen for a product. On the face of it, travelling more than 50,000 miles to make a tennis ball does seem fairly ludicrous, but it just shows the global nature of production these days and how complex it is, even with a seemingly fairly simple product. In the end, this will be the most cost-effective way of making tennis balls,” said Dr. Johnson.
“Slazenger are locating production near the primary source of their materials, which if you look at most current supply chains today, is not the case. Before the financial crash when logistics costs were really high a lot of firms did this, but now it is not so common. But the tennis ball provides Slazenger with the perfect synchronisation of materials produced at a very low cost near to the manufacturing labour in the Philippines,” he added.