Light Wave


IBM’s Controversial AI Commentator To Be Served Up at Wimbledon

By Belal Awad · August 1, 2023

In brief…

  • All England Club is collaborating with IBM on developing AI commentary to bring real-time match analysis to remote Wimbledon spectators.
  • IBM's Aaron Baughman said rapid advancements enable the new system to produce commentary mere seconds after a point concludes.
  • Tennis expert Jo Durie voiceded doubt in AI's ability to replicate human analysis.
  • IBM's Kevin Farrar insists AI's role is to complement to human commentators, not replace them.
  • Live AI-enabled commentary may start at Wimbledon as early as next year.
Wimbledon Centre Court  GATORFAN2525/Wikimedia Commons

The All England Club, in collaboration with IBM, has introduced an AI commentary system powered by IBM’s Watson X for the Wimbledon website and app. The innovative feature aims to bridge the gap between on-court excitement and remote spectators, offering real-time commentary generated from vast match data. While initially limited to post-event highlights, IBM is fast progressing towards live AI commentary during matches, according to company statements.

IBM Engineer and Inventor Aaron Baughman notes the system’s rapid advancement, with the potential for real-time commentary mere seconds after a tennis point concludes. The technology is envisioned to expand beyond its current basic capabilities. Its potential, many believe, is unlimited.

The introduction of AI commentary has ignited both curiosity and controversy. Tennis figures such as former British No. 1 player Jo Durie voiced skepticism over AI’s ability to replicate human analysis and emotional connection. IBM’s Kevin Farrar insists the technology is meant to complement, not replace, human commentators.

Beyond enhancing the viewer experience, AI commentary also makes Wimbledon far more accessible to an increasingly global tennis audience. IBM envisions a wide range of future AI capabilities that cater to diverse preferences, interests and languages.

Live AI-enabled commentary may commence at Wimbledon as early as next year.