Wimbledon targets lower-ranked players in increase

The All England Club has increased the prize money at this

year’s Wimbledon tennis championship by 10 percent, with a majority

of the cash directed to help lower-ranked players.

Although the men’s and women’s singles champions will each

receive a record 1.15 million pounds ($1.85 million), most of the

biggest overall increase since 1993 will go to players who lose in

qualifying or the early rounds.

The overall pot announced Tuesday will be 16.1 million pounds

($26 million), an increase of 1.5 million pounds ($2.4 million)

from 2011.

”Wimbledon continues to be successful and we are delighted to

share that increase with the players,” All England Club Chairman

Philip Brook said. ”At the same time, we appreciate the need to

help players meet the rising costs associated with professional


Players losing before the fourth round of the singles’

competitions will receive an increase of at least 13 percent. Those

who make the fourth round are guaranteed at least 75,000


The increase for the lower-ranked players, some of whom struggle

to cover the costs of training, traveling and competing at major

tournaments, was requested by Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger

Federer and Andy Murray in a meeting with championship officials in

Indian Wells, California.

”It doesn’t happen with many sports and credit to them for

doing it,” Brook said. ”It shows that with the top four players

you have people of quality.”

Brook denied that any player had threatened to pull out of the

championship in an effort to force the increase.

Prize money for all rounds increased at the same rate until

2006, when the annual raise for the singles’ champions began to

dramatically outstrip that for early losers.

Djokovic earned 120 percent more for winning the 2011 men’s

title than Goran Ivanisevic a decade earlier.

While the singles champions will earn 4.5 percent more than last

year, a player losing in the first round will take 26 percent more

– 14,500 pounds ($23,400). Losers in the qualifying rounds will

earn 21 percent more and per diem payments will rise from 170

pounds ($274) to 200 pounds ($323) for the main draw.

”We anticipate another financially successful year despite

tough economic conditions and as always it’s important that we

share our success with players in a meaningful way,” Brook


The prize money increase was announced under gray skies in

southwest London, rain falling steadily as it has for much of the

past two weeks.

But the All England Club said it will still be trying to

conserve water at this year’s championship after one of the driest

two-year periods on record has led to some drought restrictions in

the southern part of the country.

Like Twickenham, professional football teams and Lord’s cricket

ground, the All England Club can water its grass as usual so there

will be no impact on the tournament, but it will cut back on things

like the hanging baskets of flowers that are almost as much a part

of the championship as strawberries and cream.

”Wimbledon this year will be a little less colorful than usual

but we do think it’s the right thing to do,” Brook said.

Other changes announced Tuesday include beginning play 30

minutes earlier on courts 2-19 in the hope that an 11:30 a.m. start

cuts down on the number of matches held over by the changeable

British weather.

A new tournament website can show live action, although it will

be restricted to one game per set per match every hour to avoid

competition with broadcasters ESPN and the BBC.

The BBC has agreed to continue coverage of the event through

2017, taking its partnership with the tournament to 90 years.

Brook said the All England Club is also formulating the details

of a new plan for ground development and championship organization

through 2020. That could include a roof on No. 1 Court similar to

that on Centre Court.

”That doesn’t mean we have decided to do it,” Brook said. ”It

means we will consider it.”