June 17, 2024 By Tyler Sidell 4 min read

For two weeks in July, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) hosts Wimbledon, the most prestigious tournament in the sport. IBM has been partnering with the Club for more than three decades, enhancing coverage of The Championships and engaging fans with rich data-driven insights. This year, some of the most compelling stories of the tournament will be told with the help of IBM® watsonx™, the enterprise-ready generative AI platform.

How watsonx keeps Wimbledon fans up to date

The new Catch Me Up feature, available in the Wimbledon app and website, provides AI-generated summaries for every singles player—describing what happened in their last match and the challenges they face in their next one. Users can personalise their Catch Me Up list by adding their favorite players. If matches are live or video highlights are available, Catch Me Up provides relevant links.

Along with showing app users the match results of their favorite players, the Catch Me Up feature factors in recency, geolocation and rankings to present additional relevant content. It also generates a summary card, capturing major storylines, highlights and previews of upcoming matches.

Behind-the-scenes benefits

The Catch Me Up feature saves the Wimbledon editorial team hours of time and frees them up to write more stories and manage higher-value tasks. Behind the scenes, the process begins by collecting a huge volume of data from player rankings and momentum to games and sets played. This structured and unstructured data is managed by IBM® watsonx.data™, a data store built on an open lakehouse architecture that enables flexible, scalable access by applications across the Club’s hybrid cloud servers.To generate the Catch Me Up summaries, the team uses a powerful, open-source large language model (LLM) called IBM Granite, which was trained on thoroughly reviewed, fully transparent, enterprise-grade data. The model boasts 13 billion parameters and is optimized for dialogue use cases such as virtual agents or chatbots. Using IBM® watsonx.ai™ — a next-generation studio for building and training generative AI models for business use cases – the model was tuned with trusted Wimbledon data, and trained to generate stories in Wimbledon’s unique editorial style and tone of voice. The entire workflow is managed and monitored using IBM® watsonx.governance™ to deliver reliable, integrated performance.

Enhancing fan-favorite features through ongoing collaboration

Wimbledon stays at the forefront of sporting event technology through its collaboration with IBM Consulting®. Each year, teams from IBM and the AELTC collaborate and co-create (using the IBM Garage® methodology) to bring the beauty and excitement of the tournament to life for millions of fans all over the world.

A shining example is the IBM SlamTracker®. “SlamTracker has been where you get your scores and stats for almost 20 years,” says Sidell. “Over the last 18 months, we’ve been working with Wimbledon to create a new SlamTracker experience. We’re showcasing generative AI capabilities on top of it—some of the snippets you see as part of the player cards will now also live within SlamTracker, with three bullet points for match previews and recaps, generated by watsonx.”

This year, Wimbledon’s implementation will also enhance SlamTracker with new forms of head-to-head data including past matchup information, and improved server-receiver visualizations.

An enterprise-wide technology roadmap

What’s next on the technology roadmap? “This year, we’re doing a proof-of-concept with multimodal AI models—that is, a variety of computer vision models that understand both videos and images—so we can translate that into text,” says Sidell. “Our goal is to capture more of what happens between each point, during changeovers, and between play to create more contextual narratives around the players.” So perhaps next year, watsonx will help describe injury timeouts, weather delays and other play interruptions such as interactions with umpires, ball girls and ball boys, and activity in the Royal Box.

The collaboration between IBM Consulting and the Wimbledon teams extends beyond the fan-facing digital platform, into enterprise-wide transformation. “Some of Wimbledon’s sustainability leads saw a demo of the IBM® Envizi platform, showing how it could improve the monitoring and reporting of their carbon emissions and energy consumption data,” says Sidell. “That led to us implementing an instance of Envizi for the AELTC to monitor the tournament this year.” As the sole grand slam tournament played on natural grass, it seems only fitting that Wimbledon should stay ahead of the curve on environmental concerns.

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