Wimbledon 2015: ‘World’s best tournament’ puts money where its mouth is
The two singles champions at Wimbledon will earn £1.88m each in 2015 after another prize money increase
The Championships, as the most famous tennis tournament in the world refers to itself, has once again thrown down the gauntlet to its fellow Grand Slams.
At its Spring news conference this week, Wimbledon announced another record purse that will take the winnings of the two singles champions to £1.88m apiece, an increase of £120,000 on last year.
The overall prize fund at the All England Club rises seven percent from £25m to £26.75m, continuing record-breaking investment that includes not only the potential earnings of the players but the facilities and services for both competitors and fans at The Championships.
Since 2011, the total prize money has almost doubled, but the biggest surge came in 2013 with a 40 percent, £6.5m increase to £22.6m. Last year, it rose another 10.8 percent—£2.4m—to £25m.
Wimbledon therefore continues to be the most lucrative tournament in tennis, helping to maintain its status as the jewel in the Grand Slam crown [see comparative figures at the end of this report].
Philip Brook, the All England Lawn Tennis Club chairman, affirmed: “We recognise the players are an essential ingredient of our championships. The level of prize money is affordable, so we feel it’s important that we should reflect that in what we pay the players.
“I think you’ve seen that some other tournaments are reacting to what we did two years ago, so there are some big increases in other Grand Slams and Masters events in response to what we did.”
Over the last few years, the tournament has also taken into account many players’ concerns over the relatively poor rewards for those losing in the early stages of the competition, and in recent years has allocated the largest percentage rise to players in the opening rounds. This year, that percentage is the same across the board. Even so, first-round losers will receive £29,000 compared with £11,250 five years ago.
Brook explained: “After three years of favouring the left-hand side of the draw (first and second rounds), we feel we have got the balance about right.”
The doubles draws will receive an average five percent increase, while wheelchair doubles players will get a much bigger rise averaging 28 percent.
While Wimbledon has consistently led the way in prize money, it is also proving to be both flexible and forward-looking in other highly significant ways.
This year, the decision taken in 2012 to move The Championships back by a week in the tennis calendar, comes into effect. Wimbledon will begin three weeks after the French Open finishes, giving players a vital extra week to make the difficult transition from the long clay swing to the short grass swing.
That additional week has allowed the Stuttgart 250 to move from after Wimbledon to after Roland Garros—and switch from clay to grass. Halle and Queen’s have been upgraded to become the tour’s first grass 500s, and they are followed by Nottingham, upgraded from Challenger to 250 alongside the women’s International tournament.
Improved Wimbledon experience
Several other elements of the Wimbledon Master Plan come to fruition this summer. They include:
• Courts 14 and 15 come back into use after being re-laid following development works—new accommodation for ball boys and girls under Court 15 and a state-of-the-art photographers’ area under Court 14.
• And use of Hawkeye is extended to courts 12 and 18, bringing this technology to six courts in total.
• The Aorangi Pavilion, in the practice centre of the site, has been refurbished into a dedicated player facility. Locker rooms have doubled in size and incorporate ice baths, private physio and massage space, plus a new restaurant.
• In the Millennium Building, the player lounge has been refurbished, increased in size, and has added substantially to its medical, physio and treatment facilities. Players will also benefit from their own dedicated website. The media get a 24hr restaurant and extra interview rooms.
• Looking further ahead, the All England Club remains on course to have a roof on Court 1 by 2019.
Grand Slam prize money (in equivalent sterling) 2015
Singles champions: £1.6m
Singles champions: £1.3m
Singles champions: £1.88m
US Open (2014)
Singles champions: £1.9m