The Wimbledon Championships have returned at the AELTC, following cancellation of the 2020 Grand Slam tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The AELTC is a wholly owned subsidiary of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, located at Church Road, Wimbledon in London.
In a post titled, “It’s Good to be Back – Wimbledon 2021,” Alexandra Willis, head of communications, content at digital at the AELTC, writes, “Wimbledon is back. With the support of the government, public health, and our local authorities in Merton and Wandsworth, we are going ahead as part of the Events Research Program, with players back on the courts, and spectators in the stands.
“There is plenty we’ve been asked to do differently — our colleagues across operations, security, food & drink, HR, IT, membership, ticketing, courts and horticulture, estate management, estate development, player relations, and so many who come together to make Wimbledon happen, have all worked tirelessly — these are the heroes behind everything you’ll see.
“First up there’s our campaign, It’s a Wimbledon Thing, which aims to celebrate the passion of our fans, through their own traditions, not just ours. All around the world, people have their Wimbledon rituals. We’ve created a trailer, the work of the wonderful McCann London, to kick this off, asked a series of influencers to create their own Wimbledon Things, and are encouraging fans around the world to share their #WimbledonThing with us.
“Then there’s Wimbledon at Home. Recognizing that many fans may not get the chance to come to Wimbledon this year, or in fact ever at all, we wanted to create a home for them, a series of ideas and inspirations that cover food and drink (order your own afternoon tea, or try out one of our recipes), fashion (get the ultimate fan pack — limited edition, or take a look at our new creative positioning, Proudly Understated), and fun (our set of Explore Wimbledon activity packs, and our mobile game, BreakPoint).
“Next cab off the rank are our digital innovations. Working in partnership with IBM, we’ve recognized that tennis can be a pretty intimidating sport to follow, especially when you’ve only heard of one or two players. So, we’ve sought to address that in three ways:
- “Help fans know who to follow by letting them know who is in form. That’s the IBM Power Rankings, which allow AI to mine punditry, statistics and match analysis to help provide a guide to who’s hot and who’s… less so. We started working on this idea three years ago, so to see it come to life is very exciting.
- “Help fans prepare for the match they are following with Pre-Match Insights, a handy scorecard that picks out the major talking points of the match, and provides a likelihood to win projection.
- “Give fans value back for following players, through player recommendations and personalized highlights reels, delivered to them via their myWimbledon account. We’ve also collaborated with Andy Murray and WENEW to mint the first NFTs in tennis, immortalizing Murray’s iconic 2013 Wimbledon win on the blockchain.”
As the Official Technology Partner of the AELTC for the past 32 years, IBM has designed, developed and delivered innovative digital experiences to engage sports fans around the world. Leveraging the same AI and hybrid cloud technologies IBM uses with businesses across industries and around the world, Wimbledon continues to accelerate innovation and improve the digital fan experience. For the 2021 tournament, IBM has introduced three new fan experiences for Wimbledon fans that highlight the company’s focus on data, language and automation.
IBM Power Rankings with Watson: Wimbledon brings in fans beyond the sport of tennis, and often, outside of the big names, they don’t necessarily know who to pay attention to, who is in form, who is the pundits’ pick to win? To help answer these questions, for the first time this year, the AELTC will leverage IBM Power Rankings with Watson, an AI-powered analysis of player performance presented as a leaderboard, that updates every day of the tournament.
IBM Power Rankings focus on a player’s most recent match history, combining advanced statistical analysis, the natural language processing of IBM Watson, and the power of the IBM Cloud to analyze daily performance data, mine media commentary, and measure player momentum tournament to tournament and match to match.
READ MORE: IBM Creates New AI and Cloud Powered Fan Experiences Ahead of Return to Live Tennis with The Championships, Wimbledon 2021 (IBM)
IBM Pre-Match Insights with Watson: Building off the success of Match Insights with Watson which was used for the first time during the 2020 US Open, Wimbledon’s digital properties will feature a Pre-Match Insights with Watson “fact sheet” for every main draw singles match. The AI-generated content will surface player insights to better inform fans with current player performance detail ahead of each match. It will present the IBM Power Rankings and it will generate a likelihood to win prior to the match beginning, anticipating the outcome before the first serve is even struck.
The fact sheet will also feature an “In the Media” section that leverages IBM Watson Discovery to create a custom news archive, and natural language processing (NLP) to extract key insights about each player from trusted news sources and it includes a “By the Numbers” section that leverages open source AI technologies such as natural language generation (NLG) to translate historical match statistics into player insights, as well as IBM Decision Optimization to select the insights to display to the fan.
Personalized Recommendations and Highlights Reels: Once a fan has worked out who to follow via the IBM Power Rankings, IBM has worked to provide them with additional value through a series of personalized recommendations and highlights reels. These are created through a Rules-Based Recommendation Engine integrated across Wimbledon’s digital platforms, giving fans the opportunity to engage with more personalized content.
Wimbledon’s IBM-powered digital experience uses a combination of on-premises systems, private clouds, and IBM Cloud, the same components that make up the hybrid cloud environments in which enterprises increasingly operate. Several of the features in the Wimbledon digital experience are built as containerized apps and deployed on Red Hat OpenShift, a leading enterprise Kubernetes platform, which allows them to run them across hybrid cloud environments, enabling flexibility, efficiency, and an accelerated pace of innovation.