AKQA: Nike’s Never Done Evolving

Two AI generated images of Serena Williams facing each other mid-shot

AKQA: Nike’s Never Done Evolving

There’s only one Serena Williams. But what if there were two?

Even as winner of the most Grand Slam titles in tennis history, Serena Williams always finds new ways to shatter expectations. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Nike wanted to showcase the power of her game and how it has evolved over time.

Harnessing advanced AI, Nike and AKQA created a match between 1999 Serena, when she won her first Grand Slam title, and the Serena who won the 2017 Australian Open. Machine learning modelled each era’s playing style: decision-making, shot selection, reaction time, recovery and agility, based on archive footage. Models were brought to life by re rendering them into an entirely new scene and having them appear to be playing and responding to each other.

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

1.7 million viewers watched the grand final via YouTube, an increase of 1082% in organic views compared to other Nike content. Never Done Evolving broke all Nike's organic views records on YouTube.

Nike is now applying this study's data not only to improve their products' technology, but also to improve their athletes' performance across sports.