/ Tennis

Increase in Wimbledon prize money will help lower-ranked players

Updated: Tuesday, 24 Apr 2012 15:21 | Comments

This year's championship will take place from 25 June to 8 July
This year's championship will take place from 25 June to 8 July

Wimbledon officials have agreed to a substantial increase to the prize money for the 2012 Championships following talks with Andy Murray and other leading players. 

All England club chairman Philip Brook met with Murray, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at Indian Wells in March to discuss the increasingly thorny issue. 

As a result, the total fund for 2012 will increase by 10% to £16.1million with the mens and ladies champions receiving an extra £50,000 each, taking their prize money to £1.15million.

he biggest percentage increases goes to those players knocked out in qualifying (21%) and to the first round losers, whose prize money has been boosted by 26% from last year to £14,500.

Brook explained the leading names had argued for an increase for the lower ranked players to recognise "the rising costs associated with professional tennis".

There have been reports that players were prepared to go on strike over the issue of prize money at Grand Slams but Brook said that was never mentioned in the discussions.

"There hasn't been any suggestion of industrial action or unrest," Brook said.

"There was a request to go and meet with them in Indian Wells. We respected that request.

"In those top four players we have people of quality and integrity who want to do the right thing for the sport.

"What we heard from them was not a request for more prize money for them but they recognised this was an issue for the sport. They were there representing all the players on the tour.

"It is clear more needs to be done for lower end players for whom the rising costs of professional tennis have out-stripped prize money.

"We are hopeful these changes will be received very positively by the tours."

The 2012 Wimbledon men's champion will now earn 130% more than Goran Ivanisevic pocketed in 2001, while a first round loser will pocket 93% more than Michael Llodra did 11 years ago.

The French Open have also increased their prize fund.

Brook does not believe the four Grand Slams should work together on the issue - and he is confident Wimbledon have struck the right balance between prize money and grass roots investment.

"This is a world stage in tennis so the prize money at Wimbledon needs to reflect our position on the world stage," Brook said.

"We also have to be mindful of the fact we have a need to continue to invest in the Championships.

"We shouldn't forget one of the reasons why Wimbledon is as successful and the title so sought after today is because of the significant investment in the Championships."

The All England Tennis Club are working on a long-term development plan called Wimbledon 2020 to continue improving facilities for players and the public.

One of the potential projects being considered is the construction of a roof over Number One Court.

"We are very clear in our plans that while there has been a lot of great work done here over the last 15 years to get our Championships to this level, there is still a lot more to do," Brook said.

Meanwhile, it was also announced today that play on courts two to 19 would begin half an hour earlier than usual this year, at 11.30am. Gates will still open at 10.30am.

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