After weeks of rumours, Tennis Australia has confirmed the Australian Open will become the first Grand Slam to replace all linespeople with Hawkeye technology.

The move comes as the tournament seeks to limit the number of people on court in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in reality has been a few years in the making.

The US Open introduced a similar approach at last year’s tournament. Only the two main showcourts had linespeople, with every other court using Hawkeye technology.

The initiative will eliminate player challenges as remote tracking cameras situated around the court transmit automative line calls in real time.

Tennis Australia confirmed the change on Wednesday.

“The Australian Open will feature Live Electronic Line Calling voiced by community heroes, representing Australians who save and protect lives,” a release said.

“The pre-recorded voices will be used for the terms, ‘Out’, ‘Fault’ and ‘Foot Fault’ to acknowledge Australia’s community champions including front-line workers in the nation’s pandemic response, firefighters, surf life savers and other emergency services personnel.

“Heroes have been chosen from every state and territory and reflect unique aspects of Australian life such as a wildlife rescuer from Kangaroo Island in South Australia, which suffered the devastating impact of the 2020 bushfires.

“A Behind the Line tribute will introduce community heroes who will be featured as the official line calling voice in each match.”

Tournament director Craig Tiley said he hopes the initiative will help shine a light on community heroes.

“The Australian Open will be the first Grand Slam tournament to introduce Live Electronic Line Calling on all courts, including the major stadiums,” he said.

“I’m delighted this initiative will also help to shine a light on those who work tirelessly, and so often without recognition, to keep our community safe and healthy.”

Source: Brendan Bradford