Tim Henman has cast a sentimental vote for live linespeople at the upcoming Wimbledon edition, with the All England Club board member keen to keep the old school vibe going.
While nothing has yet been decided regarding details of the June 28 start of the grass fortnight, the former British No. 1 has come down firmly in favour of the human touch on court.
The US and Australian Opens have both been played over the past half year with Hawk-Eye electronics doing the heavy lifting – and the computerised system has seemingly come off without a hitch.
The four-time semi-finalist admits that the silicone circuits have been all but infallible – even if they deny players the chance to lodge an instant appeal and do prevent many spontaneous on-court meltdowns.
“With regards to Hawk-Eye live, in an ideal world I would like to have the Hawk-Eye technology on the court but with line judges,” Henman told British media.
“I still enjoy the human element, the interaction between players and line judges and players selecting when to challenge.
“I think the line judges have been a part of our sport for a very long time and there’s a community of line judges and umpires who are involved in tennis.”
The former ace fears that drama will seep from the game should electronic eyes do all the work.
“If we are only using Hawk-Eye live at the highest level, then I think the interest and opportunity for people to be involved in that sphere, the incentive is not going to be there.”
Any kind of a decision remains to be sorted at an event which was not played in 2020 thanks to a multi-million dollar pandemic insurance payout – one which is now unlikely to ever be repeated.
“At the 2021 Championships we don’t know yet what the restrictions will be, but if there’s a scenario when we are trying to limit the number of people on site then I’m sure Hawk-Eye live will be an opportunity,” Henman said.
Wimbledon wise men will decide in the coming weeks whether to stage a full-on Championships, one with reduced crowds and no queue or a no-fans ghost event in the recent US Open style.
Britain has announced it will aim to end COVID social restrictions on June 21, a week before the start of the Championships.