Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

In Pursuit of Greatness: How Wimbledon continues to adapt and thrive with its digital content

Posted on 7 February 2020 by Danny Clark

For two weeks every July, an affluent district in South West London becomes home to one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world, The Championships, Wimbledon.

Steeped in deep-rooted tradition, the iconic All England Lawn Tennis Club is unparalleled in its sense of history and occasion.

With the all-white clothing of the players juxtaposed against the famous green turf, the quintessential British sporting scene is captured.

Also, where else could 28,000 kilograms of strawberries and 10,000 litres of fresh cream be consumed over the space of two weeks?

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Tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the tournament’s strong identity, while also satisfying a global audience, the summer is an intense period for those working at the Championships, not least for the team in charge of the digital content.

The Sports Gazette spoke to Wimbledon’s content manager Will Giles to discuss some of the key challenges and decisions the digital team have to consider both prior to, and during the tournament.

“Certainly one challenge is the fact that Wimbledon is a set place in the sporting calendar and new trends emerge on social media all the time. Sometimes they emerge at a time that gives us a long run-up to prepare for it and then execute it during a tournament. However, sometimes they don’t,” Giles said.

“So we have to really learn a new platform such as TikTok, or learn something very quickly to maximise its potential during the tournament.”

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Taking place in the heart of the summer, Wimbledon often clashes with other major tournaments – most recently the Fifa Football World Cup in 2018 and the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019.

These clashes are not viewed by Wimbledon’s digital content team as a threat to the tournament, but they are instead embraced.

“This is a year with football [Euro 2020], so we will spend more time thinking about how we can collaborate with them,” Giles said.

“We’ll speak to a lot of our partners – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and say look don’t forget about us just because the Euros are on, here’s what we can offer, here’s what we can do with each other.

“We’ve always seen it as an opportunity to have a bit of fun with our brand as we did with the ICC interaction when the Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon finals overlapped.”

With a worldwide spotlight on the tournament every year, decisions on the output of content are often difficult when trying to satisfy the demands of the diverse audience.

“We don’t want to just focus on the big players, we also want to help drive interest in new players. Obviously we have to cover the British players as well. It is tough, and certain things will unfortunately fall by the wayside,” Giles said.

“If you told me that in the last tournament we’d have been focusing on Simona Halep going back to Romania and then Coco Gauff, I wouldn’t have thought that for one second.

“We try to do justice to the main stories and narratives as much as possible, whoever it may be. Ultimately, it’s a reactive approach.”