IDS: The Masters of Wimbledon Shot Data and More

It’s safe to say that a tennis analyst is only as good as their ability to wrap context around a wealth of shot and match data, like serve speed, aces, winners, and unforced errors. And that’s why the job performed by Information & Display Systems (IDS) and an army of UK university students at Wimbledon during the tournament this week is so important as a slip up can mean the difference between on-air talent looking smart or stupid.

Glyn Williams, IDS head of events technology services, is overseeing the efforts at what has, to date, been a wonderfully dry tournament filled with great matches, clutch shots, and even history.

Glyn Williams of IDS oversees the collection of shot data at Wimbledon and the other tennis Grand Slam events.

“A lot of people are dissecting and writing about the stats for [the longest tennis match ever],” says Williams. And for good reason as the 11 hour, 5 minute match featured never-to-be-duplicated feats like a combined 215 aces.

Data collection is done at each court using laptop computers. At the “show courts” there are three data collectors on site: one focused on serve, another on stats, and a third logging information like the style of play (serve and volley, baseline) and the number of shots in a rally. Each student works for two hours before having a 40 minute break so they can stay fresh.

IDS then publishes the data in real time to the Wimbledon Information System which, in turn, is available to on-air talent, producers, and reporters via touch screens around the grounds.

“We also produce the graphics for the World Feed using Brainstorm graphics,” says Williams. “But the data feed is also used by other broadcasters for Deko or Vizrt graphic systems. It is very flexible and can handle different feeds for different vendors.”

DIRECTV’s ITV service (which signed off on Saturday night) and the BBC interactive TV service also make use of the data. In addition IDS handles the graphics that are displayed on the big screens in the different courts, working with the HawkEye replay system.

“We have a travelling kit that goes to all the grand slams and we set up a few days before,” says Williams. “We have 150 systems on site here and set up during the qualifying rounds. We can break down in about 8 hours and get out on the Monday after the tournament.”

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