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Nike Uses AI to Pit Serena Williams Against Her Past Self



Nike and AKQA combined archival footage with AI to generate 130.000 games between two Serenas from two different eras

Nike Uses AI to Pit Serena Williams Against Her Past Self

Nike is celebrating the most significant moments throughout its history, including the achievements of legendary athletes — like the one-and-only Serena Williams.

With Serena playing her 27th and final year as a professional, and finishing at the US Open where she won her first Grand Slam, Nike is able to showcase how her game has evolved over time. Harnessing the power of advanced AI and machine learning, Nike displays Serena Williams’ evolution like never before.

An AI match-up of the ages

Nike, together with AKQA studios in Melbourne, Portland and São Paulo travelled back in time to create a match-up between Serena from her first Grand Slam at the 1999 US Open versus her most recent at the 2017 Australian Open. The goal was to gain insight on how Serena got to where she is today and how she keeps challenging the future.

Machine learning was able to model each era’s playing style: decision making, shot selection, reactivity, recovery and agility based on archival footage.

Building on the vid2player technique developed by Stanford University, Nike were able to bring the models of Serena to life by re-rendering the players from each generation into an entirely new scene and have them appear to be playing and responding to each other.

The matches served as a step towards a future of sports analytics for more human readable data visualisation. It is a new and accessible format for tennis experts to experience and interpret data.

The simulated games aren’t just a chance to look back at historic accomplishments, they exhibit Serena’s decade after decade determination to never stop evolving. Even with the most Grand Slam titles in tennis history, Serena is always finding new ways to shatter expectations.

Game, Set, Serena

The result was seeing both Serena’s play each other for 130,000 games and 5,000 matches, enough tennis matches to stream for an entire year if played back-to-back.

The final gameplay was broadcasted to the public as a YouTube livestream reaching over 1.69 million of Nike’s subscribers. Lead up to the live event included social media posts promoting the broadcast across Nike’s Instagram and Twitter channels.

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Categories: Clothing and Fashion, Sportswear

AKQA US, Fri, 12 Aug 2022 15:23:11 GMT