Before Julia Görges stepped onto the court at the French Open on May 26, the German tennis pro did something strange. She stopped to turn on her racket.
Görges, ranked 107th in the world in women’s singles, was the first player to use the newest product from tennis’s oldest manufacturer: the Play Pure Drive, a digitally enhanced racket created by the French company Babolat. With each strike of the ball, tiny sensors in Görges’s racket recorded the strength of the impact and the spin. An accompanying smartphone app processed the data and also calculated the number of forehands, backhands, serves, and overhead smashes. Görges, who’s sponsored by Babolat, won her first match and lost the second. She hoped her new gadget could help figure out why. “Sometimes you are in the emotions … and you sometimes lose the vision [to see] things,” she said in a postgame interview.