Andy Roddick has thrown his weight behind calls for tennis line judges to be replaced by AI technology after a number of incorrect calls during the Wimbledon men’s singles final. And the former world No. 1 even suggested that keeping the on-court officials alongside the technology that is now available was akin to running a charity.
Roddick, who reached three Wimbledon singles finals, losing them all to Roger Federer, took to social media shortly after Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz won his first grasscourt grand slam with a five-set victory over defending champion Novak Djokovic on Sunday.
Roddick tweeted: “Lots of missed calls today ….. not doing much for the “we should keep human line umpires” crowd ….”
When Twitter users tried to argue his point, the American had answers for the key points.
@thisisliam wrote: “The human aspect adds to the game. Besides, a whole new group of people will be out of work, meaning another win for AI. There’s no way to incorporate this technology and also keep human beings working?”
Roddick responded: “If you kept the humans when their job was being done for them, it’d be a charity. This tech has existed for 15 years. Not exactly some new AI situation.”
@TennisFanMinty tweeted: “Automatic line calls are better and should be ubiquitous in my opinion. However, how do we create a new generation of umpires without the line judges?”
Roddick retorted by saying: “Assuming lines are actually called by machines ….. You don’t think we can find some people to be trained to announce the score, intro players, and use a walkie-talkie to talk to tourney directors if need be?”
A handful of incorrect calls during the Alcaraz v Djokovic final could have impacted the result had the players not utilised their allowance of umpire call challenges.
The Australian Open became the first Grand Slam to incorporate an electronic line calling system in 2021, before the US Open did the same later that year. But the progressive move is yet to be adopted by either the French Open at Roland Garros or Wimbledon, who both continue to prefer the traditional method of using human line judges.
Despite some arguments to the contrary, most of Roddick’s followers on Twitter appeared to be in favour of implementing the technology completely across the sport, although there appeared to be an acceptance that in doing so, something could be lost from the game.
@1stserveace tweeted: “When I saw Andy Murray not challenge a winner return at break point in the 4th set vs Tsitsapas I knew something needed to change. Would have changed the outcome. Unsure Why Murray didn’t challenge but with automatic line call it would have never been an issue.”
But @CdotB2 wrote: “It makes sense to do this for fairness, but for the sport, the drama, the entertainment it’s not. There is nothing more dramatic then waiting to see if they got it right. Like other sports challenges add to the drama of a point and increase tension. Without it it’s just dry.”