How Wimbledon is using IBM Watson AI to power highlights, analytics and enriched fan experiences

By | 4 minute read | July 6, 2017

Key Points:
– We’re helping Wimbledon deliver new levels of engagement for ticket holders and 70 million online fans
– Watson-powered real time match reports are expected to rival global outlets in breaking news and uncovering player insights
– Watson Discovery Service is using 22 years of unstructured data to analyze an estimated 53,713,514 tennis data points
– A voice-activated, Watson-powered digital assistant “Fred,” helps attendees find their way around the venue


At the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), more than a half-million fans gather for the Wimbledon Championships every year. They will dine on the quintessential English diet of 320,000 glasses of Pimm’s, 29,000 bottles of champagne and 28,000 kilos of strawberries and cream.

For two weeks in July, enthusiastic fans descend on the SW19 venue, with thousands of fans swarming onto the iconic Henman Hill to watch the tournament unfold. That’s not including the more than 70 millions fans who watch the tournament online and on their televisions.

All the fanfare isn’t complete without the ongoing effort of the AELTC to enrich fan experiences through cutting-edge technology in new ways.

For the 2017 Championships, IBM Watson is working with AELTC to deliver ticket holders and 70 million online fans with new levels of engagement and user assistance. IBM-powered real-time match reports are expected to rival global outlets in breaking news and uncovering insights about tennis players for fans everywhere.

Helping fans discover what makes a great champion

IBM Watson is analyzing what it really takes to make a great Wimbledon champion, based on new insights that are provoking social media discussion among fans. (Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #WhatMakesGreat)

In the search for #WhatMakesGreat, once again Wimbledon is putting IBM Watson to work analyzing tennis champions across six broad categories including:
– passion
– performance under pressure
– serve effectiveness
– stamina
– how well the player either adapted their normal playing style to an opponent or was able to force an opponent to conform to their tactics
– the ability to return serves.

In the pursuit of defining what makes a great champion, IBM brings to bear the full capabilities of Watson platform – using 22 years of unstructured data. Watson Discovery Service is used to analyze an estimated 53,713,514 tennis data points to date, captured since 1990.

During the Championships, this information will be used to spark debate on social channels like Twitter, Facebook and the

Meanwhile, Watson’s Personality Insights API helps uncover player traits and behaviors based on previous player interviews etc. All of this analysis surfaces undiscovered insights designed to inspire online engagement among experts, sports commentators and fans.

Before the matches get underway, new insights are already driving conversation among tennis experts. For example, Watson’s analysis recently highlighted new information about a female player’s service game. Using unstructured data, Watson was able to dig deeper and reveal how the player’s serve was improving every year and was the driving force to her becoming a Wimbledon champion.

Ultimately, we are helping AELTC tell the stories of famous as well as and up-and-coming players. We’re demonstrating to the tournament’s growing audience — particularly online and in new markets like Asia — that there’s a lot more to being a great Wimbledon champion than statistics alone. In reality, it’s a combination of factors including skill, personality traits and behaviors. Engaging fans in this discovery enhances their experience of the Championships in an entirely new and unique way.

Other ways that IBM technology is powering Wimbledon 2017

This year’s all new Watson-enabled bot, “Ask Fred,” will reinvent how guests experience Wimbledon. Named after the late and great Fred Perry, the cognitive assistant will answer a wide range of questions from fans visiting the event.

The mobile app will enrich the fan experience by serving up information on dining options, feature a natural language interface and provides an interactive map of the venue. The all-new assistant is available now to Wimbledon visitors – within the Official Apps for mobile and tablet.

Through the Wimbledon IBM SlamTracker with Cognitive Keys to the Match, fans will also have an unprecedented level of analysis, insight and engagement as matches unfold. Built with mobile devices in mind, the cross platform application delivers real-time scores, stats and insights for all matches in progress. As well as allowing fans to research player tactics in a pre-match environment.

Learn more and get started with IBM Watson

IBM has been the “Official Information Technology Supplier and Consultant” to the All England Club and The Championships, Wimbledon for 28 years. As part of last year’s competition, we provided a Cognitive Command Centre to help Wimbledon deliver rich, relevant, gripping content to fans in real-time.

We wanted to create a system that could analyze huge quantities of information in real-time and pull out trends and useful information. We also wanted a system that could adapt the rules it uses as more information becomes available.

IBM Bluemix, which is an open-source, developer-friendly cloud platform which uses IBM’s Watson APIs, gave us the tools we needed to address these challenges.

Learn more about how IBM is working with Wimbledon 2017 and join the conversation at #whatmakesgreat.

For more information on how IBM Watson can help supercharge your business, visit You can also sign up for a 30-day free Bluemix trial of Watson’s AI-powered APIs.