Every year at the end of the summer tennis fans turn their gaze to the US Open. The contest is full of high stakes and drama and this year it’s coming faster than anyone might expect; it’s just around the corner. To help pump everyone up and get the celebration started early, ESPN teamed up with photographer Benedict Redgrove to get an insiders look at how they make one of the game’s most important pieces: the ball. Benedict traveled to the Wilson Factory in Thailand where they make the iconic tennis balls and created a three and a half minute video detailing the process from raw rubber to the final felted product.
Even though we all know what a tennis ball looks like, the way they get to the familiar shape is probably not what you expected. What Benedict’s video teaches us is that creating tennis balls is a surprisingly intensive process, with the thumbprint of factory workers from beginning to end. From aligning the two halves of the rubber core, to placing the felt exterior, to adjusting the balls so they’re printed on correctly, each tennis ball is almost handcrafted all the way through its journey. Watch the video to get the whole picture of how the process works, and check out the rest of Benedict Redgrove’s portfolio on Gallery Stock here.