At Wimbledon, the balls are sold at the Used Balls Kiosk next to Court 14 the day after the match at a cost of £3 for a tin of three balls and £5 for a tin of six.
In 2001, 350 balls were donated to the Wildlife Trust who used them to help protect endangered harvest mice and create homes for them. Donated balls were attached to poles above ground and had holes bored into them that allowed the mice to safely build nests away from predators. Apparently, these mice loved their new homes.
In France, L’Opération Balle Jaune took up an initiative in 2008 to recycle the 17 million tennis balls used every year in France including balls from French Open. L’Opération collects balls and turns them into coatings for sports hall floors. Collected balls are sent to a milling company where they are ground down and rubber is separated from the outer fabric by a ‘blowing process’. Using this process, 40,000 balls can be converted into 100 square metres of floor covering, and more than 30 completed sports floors have been produced using recycled tennis balls.
Through the L’Opération Balle Jaune project, France is now recycling around 10 per cent of its used tennis balls every year.
A similar project is run by Project Green Ball, a US-based voluntary product stewardship programme.