We're Getting a Digital Wimbledon to Make Up for the Cancelled Real Thing

By Holly Brockwell on at

There's no Wimbledon this year for obvious reasons, but the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has come up with something digital that'll bring back some of the best things about the summer tennis tournament.

Sadly, it's not just "Wimbledon but online," since there won't be any actual matches happening (smart, after this recent fiasco). Instead, the event will be called The Greatest Championships and will consist of digitally remastered broadcasts of some of the best matches in Wimbledon history.

The not-a-tournament starts on Monday the 29th of June – the date of actual Wimbledon, if it were going ahead – and will last for the same two weeks. There's a trailer here if you want to know what to expect.

The remastering is thanks to IBM, who worked with the AELTC to not only improve the quality of the footage but to add commentary, information, interviews, player info and stats. The matches will play out in the same structure as usual, even though technically the matches are from different years.

Alex Willis, Head of Communications, Content & Digital at AELTC, comments:

"It’s not going to be a substitute for the real thing but it’s going to be our way of providing something for our fans and recreating Wimbledon in the best way we can.

We didn’t want to just play out classic matches in a kind of Wimbledon rain-delay style. We wanted to actually put together something that would be more immersive and more useful for fans."

A recent YouGov survey said Wimbledon is the second most-watched live sports event in the country, after the Olympics – but presumably Wimbledon wins in the years the Olympics aren't on. The survey was commissioned by IBM, by the way – that probably hasn't prejudiced what seems like a reasonable result but it's always worth knowing there's a vested interest.

It sounds like IBM has worked really hard on this project, so they're entitled to claim their credit. The company imported old Wimbledon footage – some from the seventies – into IBM cloud, then enhanced the quality by removing artifacts, noise and other fuzzy nonsense. They used AI to sort out pixelated bits and upscale the resolution, then trained AI models to learn when crowd hype was highest to identify the most exciting bits of the match.

Incredibly, the whole project was completed in just 8 weeks, and you can enjoy it on the Wimbledon website from Monday the 29th of June. [TechRadar]

Main image: Wimbledon