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This year's Wimbledon tennis tournament will use AI-powered commentary and player analysis this year, in a bid to help fans engage on “a deeper level” with the championship.
The world’s oldest tennis tournament will embrace the new technology across its online platforms, according to an announcement issued on Wednesday by organizers The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELT) and technology giant IBM.
A new AI commentary feature will generate audio and captions for match highlights videos, offering insight on key moments.
The feature, which uses IBM’s WatsonX technology, was developed alongside the AELT to make sure it uses tennis-specific language.
“We are constantly innovating with our partners at IBM to provide Wimbledon fans, wherever they are in the world, with an insightful and engaging digital experience of The Championships,” said Usama Al-Qassab, marketing and commercial director at the AELT.
He added that the AI features would mean fans can access commentary on a “wider variety of matches.”
Human commentary is already available on Wimbledon’s so-called “show courts”, where the major showdowns take place. But events such as the seniors, juniors and wheelchair matches do not currently have their own expert narration.
Integrating AI into sports
IBM, which has been an official partner of the championships since 1990, already provides a suite of AI-powered analysis tools for the competition, including a player ‘Power Index’, match insights and personalized highlights reels. This year, its draw analysis feature will also have a new statistic that defines how favorable the path to the final might be for each player in the singles draw.
Jonathan Adashek, senior vice president of marketing and communications for IBM, said the company had observed how AI technologies “have the power to help major sporting events like Wimbledon to grow their audiences through outstanding digital experiences.”
IBM researchers were already working on AI software with the ability to do play-by-play commentary on sports matches as early as 2019. Most recently, the business added computer-generated commentary to clips of the Masters Tournament golf championship in April.