Tennis is played on three surfaces: hard, grass and clay. The speed of hard courts can differ based on the underneath layering and altitude. The speed of grass courts is often determined by the type of grass used and the amount of wear and tear it goes through as the tournament progresses. Finally, we have the clay courts that are usually red in colour and are more prevalent in European and South American regions. A green variant of clay is prevalent in Charleston where a Premier women’s tennis event is held annually.
Apart from the above-mentioned surfaces, there was a blue clay that was experimented only once in tennis history. This took place in 2012 in Madrid. Madrid was declared a Masters event in 2009. But the reception of its surface was critically viewed. Improper drainage system and levelling of the tennis courts made this event less popular compared to other clay court Masters events.
Ion Tiriac, owner of the Madrid Open suggested a change in the colour of the clay in order to improve the aesthetics and also make it easier for the ones seeing the event on television. Agreeably, a blue background was better suited to track a yellow ball. However, when it came to the quality of the blue clay, a lot of eyebrows were raised.
The blue clay was made by removing iron oxide from the regular red clay. This made the clay white, which was then baked into bricks. These bricks were grounded into bricks and a blue pigmentation was mixed. According the Jose Miguel Garcia, the chief of competition for Madrid, the uneven surfacing of the tournament that was skeptically viewed in the past three years seemed to have a toll on the blue clay as well. Heavy rains and heat wave made the blue clay hardened, thereby depriving the players to showcase their sliding abilities.
Roger Federer and Serena Williams won the event on blue clay. However, in the subsequent edition, the organizers reverted back to red clay due to the slippery nature of the surface.