Wimbledon for the smartphone generation: How the internet is revolutionising the tournament

Players competing have been given access to their own personalised internet portal, allowing them to analyse their performances in minute detail

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The Independent Tech

It is tennis – for the smartphone generation. Andy Murray and other players competing at Wimbledon this year have been given access to their own personalised internet portal, allowing them to analyse their performances in minute detail as the tournament progresses.

The Wimbledon Player Website, which has been introduced for the first time this year by the organisers of Championships, allows the tournament’s stars to download statistics about their matches a few moments after stepping off the court.

The site, which is password-protected and is only available to competitors, is already proving popular. Tournament organisers said more than 300 players had already activated their accounts by the end of last week before the tournament had started, including “a number” of top names.

 

The service also sends an alert to the players’ smartphones when the next day’s order of play becomes available, informing them when and where in the SW19 complex they will meet their next opponent. Previously, they or someone on their team had to repeatedly phone the Wimbledon referees’ office.

“Everything is going online, and everyone has smartphones and tablets,” said Mitzi Ingram Evans, deputy championships manager at the All England Club. “We’ve always produced competitor guides, but technology’s moved forward and we wanted to put it all online.

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Local restaurants recommendations and excursions for the players to enjoy on their days off are also advertised, while transport to and from SW19 can also be booked online.

“If you’re Roger Federer and you book a practice court, you will get an alert on your phone or on email concerning the booking. When the order of play comes out, you can log in to the website and see on the homepage who your opponent is and when your match is on court.”

The site also functions as a kind of Wimbledon intranet, giving players information about the number of tickets they can reserve for friends and family and the amount of prize money they stand to win as they progress through the rounds.

Local restaurants recommendations and excursions for the players to enjoy on their days off are also advertised, while transport to and from SW19 can also be booked online. However, the website is unlikely to replace Facebook for tennis's best players, as it does not yet allow them to send messages to each other.

The site uses technology from IBM, which has worked with Wimbledon since 1990. Sam Seddon, the company’s Wimbledon client executive, said it was always examining ways to bring the Championships up to date and recently held a “hackathon” for developers, who experimented with “virtual queuing” outside Number Two Court.

Asked whether the days of the tournament’s main queue might be numbered, he said: “One of the reasons Wimbledon is so special is that it adopts new technologies but at the same time looks to retain the heritage around the event. The reasons the players are all still in white – and the reason that the queue is there – is because it’s part of the environment.

“I don’t see them going to a completely digital ticket environment in the near future, because it would ruin the essence, to some extent, of what Wimbledon is.”

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