Providing services to a global supply chain Although Slazenger is based in Derbyshire, England, the materials that go into the official Wimbledon ball go through 11 nations and four continents before being produced in Bataan, Philippines. The WTA ball is also made in the Philippines.
The international community is reliant on supplies of natural rubber coming from Malaysia and Indonesia. If these runs dry then it's back to the factory for Slazenger and Wilson.
Slazenger uses Malaysian rubber in its tennis balls. However, if the price of rubber increases then it can switch to using Indonesian rubber instead. Wilson uses both Malaysian and Indonesian rubber in its balls.
Both companies extract the natural rubber from trees grown in tropical climates. This process requires significant energy inputs from fossil fuels or electricity. The manufacturing stages after this point are similar for both brands - they make additives to strengthen the ball's surface and shape it into a court-appropriate size. These processes too require significant energy inputs.
Then the balls are packaged and sent off to be used in competitions. They don't stay here long though - most are exported again once their use at the tournament has finished. Some countries may even import them!
However, not all of this stage is done in foreign lands.
Slazenger: Based in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, Slazenger is a typically British sports equipment firm that has been the official ball supplier for Wimbledon since 1902. The original court at Wimbledon was made of grass and bounded by a hedge; it is this which gives Slazenger its name. The company also produces tennis balls for other events around the world.
Wimbledon is known as the home of cricket and football balls, with each sport using different types of ball. The most important thing when choosing a ball is that you get one that is appropriate for the type of game that you are going to be playing on the court or field on which you are using it. For example, if you were planning to play football then you would need a soccer ball, while if you were planning to play cricket then you would want a Test cricket ball.
There are two main types of ball used in tennis: the Federer (named after Roger Federer, who was using them before anyone else had ever heard of him) and the Dunlop (after John James Dunlop, the creator of the first rubber ball). There are also several other brands of balls used in other competitions such as the French Open and the US Open.
The Slazenger factory, a traditional British brand that has supplied Wimbledon balls since 1902, was the pride of the South Yorkshire town. It closed in 2002, resulting in the loss of more than 100 workers, and manufacturing was relocated to Southeast Asia.
In fact, it's been almost 10 years since the last ball was woven at the former Wimbledon factory. But what many people don't know is that some of the balls used by top tennis players during important matches at the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) are still made in China today. The story behind this unique situation will be told in an upcoming documentary called "Last Balls at Slazenger".
Watch the trailer here: http://www.imdb.com/video/watch/w30lwdxwn9c0q?ref=ttvmg
It all began in 1902, when William Gilbert Sutcliffe started making tennis balls at his family's factory near Doncaster Racecourse. In 1933, he handed the business over to his three children - John, Richard and Peter. They continued to run the company successfully until it was acquired by Japanese manufacturer Nippon Professional Baseball in 1989.
Since then, Slazenger has been operating as a division of Chinese-based multinational Toyo Bicycles Inc.