Wimbledon prize money to increase by more than 10 percent
LONDON (AP) - Total prize money for this year's Wimbledon tournament will reach 25 million pounds ($42 million), an increase of 10.8 percent that will mostly favor the early-round losers.
The All England Club said Tuesday that the men's and women's singles champions will each receive 1.76 million pounds ($2.9 million), a 10 percent increase on last year's top prize won by Andy Murray and Marion Bartoli.
By comparison, this year's French Open champions will receive 1.65 million euros ($2.3 million) while Stanislas Wawrinka and Li Na earned $2.65 million for their wins at the Australian Open in January. U.S. Open organizers have yet to announce the prize money for this year's tournament.
The main increases at Wimbledon are for the early losers, with players who fail to get past the third round receiving prize money worth 12.5 percent more than in 2013.
''We've placed emphasis on the large group of players who need our help the most, those players who lose in qualifying and in the early rounds of the championships,'' Wimbledon chairman Philip Brook said. ''We also had an eye to being competitive internationally, and we do keep our watch on what is going on in other tennis events and in particular the other Grand Slams.''
The grass-court Grand Slam will be played from June 23-July 6.
In keeping with player demands for a larger slice of Grand Slam revenues, all four majors have greatly increased their prize money in the past two years, with Wimbledon offering the biggest amount following a record 40 percent increase last year.
The French Open now offers more than 25 million euros ($34.5 million) while the U.S. Open increased its purse to $34.3 million and the Australian Open went up to AU$33 million ($31 million).
The Wimbledon prize money for the majority of singles players who lose in the first three rounds of the grass-court tournament has been increased by more than 100 percent over a three-year period. The main increase this year is for first-round losers, with each receiving 27,000 pounds ($45,450), 14.9 percent more than last year.
''This year we've got a very generous increase once again,'' Brook said. ''We wanted to build on the focus from 2012 and 2013.''
There will also be an increase of 8.7 percent in prize money for doubles and a 6.1 percent increase for mixed doubles.
In all, an extra 2.4 million pounds ($4 million) is up for grabs compared to last year.
Brook said plans to build a retractable roof on Court No. 1 are still on track pending planning approval, with an application to be submitted later this year. The roof, similar to the one on Centre Court, should be completed in 2019, and court capacity will be increased by 900 seats to 12,400.
Brook also confirmed the tournament will start a week later in 2015 to create a three-week gap between the French Open and Wimbledon, with the men's final on July 12.
''Hopefully with the extra week more players will be encouraged to compete on grass,'' Brook said.
Seedings for this year's tournament will be announced on June 18.
Brook said defending champion Murray, who has slipped to eighth in the rankings, will stay among the top seeds thanks to his strong record on grass over the past two years.
Wimbledon's seeding order is determined using the ATP rankings and points are added for achievements in grass-court tournaments in the past 12 months.
''And we add to that 75 percent of the best-performing tournament in the previous year,'' Brook said. ''For Andy Murray, as the winner of Queen's last year and the winner here last year, and a finalist here in 2012, there will be a significant impact on him.''
Brooks said the seedings will also have ''significant impact'' on seven-time champion Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Brook said.
Brook did not comment on speculation of a possible return to competition by Bartoli ahead of Wimbledon. The 29-year-old Frenchwoman retired suddenly after a loss at Cincinnati last August, explaining that her body could no longer take the strain after 14 years as a pro.
When asked if her entourage had been in touch recently and if Bartoli would be granted a wild card if she asked for one, Brook said: ''The rumors in France have not reached London yet, so we'll wait and see.''
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