Maria Sharapova doesn't think losers in the first round of the Australian Open should get a larger payout than in previous years. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
The Australian Open is set to become the world's richest event in tennis next year. The tournament gets underway in January and, thanks to a $4 million increase in payouts, the total prize money will grow to a record $31.5 million.
The 2008 winner of the Australian Open, No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova, is reportedly not happy that the tournament might shift to a payout structure where losers in the first round get paid more than in previous years, according to a report from Matt Cronin of Tennis.com.
She said that while she's happy the tournament will pay players in some of the lower rounds, she doesn't think that losers in the first round should be eligible for the larger payout.
But Sharapova, who has won more than $22 million in her career, was thankful that the Australian Open is doing more than other tournaments to pay its players and said the other Grand Slams "need to step up" and better compensate the players:
“If you compare the percentage to what we are getting at the other Slams, the Australian Open is doing a much better job of compensating us. I think it’s time for the other Grand Slams to step up. I think the Australian Open is under a lot of pressure because they are the first Grand Slam of the year. But I think the other Grand Slams need to step up based on what they make because their revenue is much bigger than the Australian Open makes.”
Total player compensation for the U.S. Open in 2012 was, by comparison, $25.5 million, which included: singles, doubles, mixed doubles, qualifying rounds and the Legends exhibition and the wheelchair event.
Serena Williams, currently No. 3 in the world, took an opposing view, saying that if you make the tournament, you deserve a larger payout regardless of how you finish from that point.