Wimbledon prize money up 40% and roof planned for Court One

 

The All-England Club has announced a 40% rise in prize money for Wimbledon in 2013 and plans for a retractable roof for Number One Court by 2019.

Prize money will total £22.6m, up £6.5m on 2012, with the men's and women's singles winners receiving £1.6m each.

Philip Brook, chairman of the All England Club, has denied the decision came about under pressure from players.

"We've listened to the players, but we have had no negotiations with players or the ATP or WTA tour," he said.

Analysis

This is a massive increase in prize money and reflects the pressure the players have been putting on the Grand Slams in recent years.

They want a bigger percentage of tournament revenue to be diverted into the prize pool - and they are certainly getting it.

A 40% rise to anything in hard economic times - which Wimbledon acknowledged just as they made the announcement - is extraordinary.

With the Centre Court roof in use since 2009, a total of 26,500 covered seats will be available across the two show courts once the work on Number One Court is complete.

The prize money on offer to the winners of the men's and ladies' singles winners was made the same in 2007 and will rise £450,000 from the £1.15m that champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams received in 2012.

Brook told BBC Sport that the latest increases are intended to support players lower down the world rankings.

"When we made our prize money announcement last year, there was a focus on players who lost in qualifying or in the early rounds of our championships," he said.

"These are players who are not multi-millionaires. They are players who are probably in the top 50 to 200 in the world.

"We wanted to do more for those players."

The singles players who lose in the first three rounds at Wimbledon will see their prize money rise more than 60% this year, taking the overall increase for these players to around 90% over a two-year period.

Wimbledon changes

  • Total prize fund of £22.6m, an increase of £6.5m (40%) over 2012
  • Singles champions to receive £1.6m, doubles champions £300,000, mixed doubles champions £92,000, first-round losers £23,500
  • Qualifying prize money up 41% (third-round losers £12,000)
  • Retractable roof over Number One Court by 2019
  • From 2015, a three-week gap between the French Open and Wimbledon

Former British number one Greg Rusedski told BBC Sport that the All-England Club had made the right decision.

"At the end of the day, the winner gets £1.6m, but that is usually Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray or Federer winning the big prizes," he told BBC Sport.

"Money becomes irrelevant to those guys as it is all about winning titles. But at the lower range it is very substantial and very important because the increase makes a big difference. It allows them to pay for their coaches, travel and a physio if they have one with them on the road.

"The increase makes a big difference in their careers and livelihoods."

There is also a 41% increase in prize money for players in qualifying, bringing the two-year increase for that category to 71%.

Brook added: "I would like to thank all those whose contribution to Wimbledon's success both on and off court has today enabled us to announce these significant levels of investment in The Championships."

There was also record prize money at the opening Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open in January, with the singles prizes rising from $2.3m to $2,430,000, around £1,635,693.

At the French Open, which begins next month, the winners will earn 1.5m euros, around £1,279,600, an increase of 250,000 euros on last year.

At the US Open, starting in August, the total prize fund will be up by $4m to $29.5m (£19.34m).

"Wimbledon needs to remain competitive," Brook said.

"The fans won't be paying for this. It's very important to us that the fans who come to Wimbledon pay a reasonable price for their ticket."

Rusedski also welcomed the decision to put a roof on Number One Court.

"In modern times, you need to have live sport all the time," he said.

"If the weather is suspect at Wimbledon, as we know it sometimes can be, it allows people to see live tennis rather than replays of John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg playing in the 1980s."