#6 The Birth of Hawkeye

Jennifer Capriati def Serena Williams 2-6 6-4 6-4 Quarterfinals 9/7/04

These two women had played each other several times in recent years and this was their third grand slam quarterfinal in 2004. Being a huge Capriati fan, I was at the match. Their matches were often extremely competitive with 10 out of the 16 times they played being three sets. The first two sets of their US Open quarterfinal progressed in typical fashion 2-6, 6-4 with “the two refusing to give in, bringing out the best in each other” as described by the NY Times.  

At the start of the third set the umpire, Mariana Alves, overruled a call that the linesperson had said was in.  Serena believed the ball to be in and the TV replays confirmed this.  It was clearly a mistake for Alves to overrule the linesperson but unfortunately bad calls and incorrect overrules were part of the game of tennis. Serena protested but at this time there was nothing a player could do about a bad call.  The match continued and Capriati was up 5-4 with a chance to serve it out. Several more bad line calls took place but without TV replay no one in the stadium realized, not that anything could have been done about it. Capriati won the game and the match and it turned out to be the first and last time I got to see her win a late round, competitive match at the US Open. US Open officials removed Alves from officiating further matches at that year's tournament and apologized to Williams.

18 months later, Hawk-eye challenges were introduced to the sport and this match is credited with the creation of the technology so a situation like this would not happen again.