‘Spidercam’ almost hits umpire at Australian Open

A tennis umpire had a near miss yesterday (Sunday) after the Australian Open’s ‘Spidercam’ crashed into her chair at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena.

The incident occurred following home favourite Ashleigh Barty’s victory over Maria Sharapova, as the camera, which is used to capture wide-angle shots for television coverage, crashed into the canopy of Alison Hughes’ courtside seat.

The camera missed Hughes by a matter of inches and the umpire was left unhurt by the incident, while a nearby ball kid also escaped without injury as the canopy was flung to the ground. The camera momentarily spun out of control before stabilising and remaining airborne.

The camera was not used during today’s afternoon session.

A Tennis Australia spokeswoman told Australian newspaper The Age: “We have decided to increase the minimum flight height of Spidercam and will perform a thorough inspection of the system before deploying it again. All on-court personnel have been offered assistance.”

The Age notes that Worksafe has inspected the camera and decided that it is safe, but Tennis Australia may require an outside opinion before the camera is used again.

Barty is the only Australian remaining in her home grand slam after yesterday’s victory over former champion Sharapova. Barty came from behind to defeat Sharapova 4-6 6-1 6-4.

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