London:The winners of this year's Wimbledon singles' titles will net a staggering one million pounds (USD 1.54 million) in prize money after the All-England Club announced a significant rise in the rewards on offer at the grass-court grand slam on Tuesday.
The credit-crunch defying figures mean reigning men's champion Roger Federer and women's holder Serena Williams will benefit from an increase of 150,000 pounds (USD 231,145) on the winning purses in 2009 if they retain their crowns in south-west London.
The total prize money for the event has been increased by 1.175 million pounds (USD 1.81 million) to 13.725 million pounds (USD 21.147 million). All England Club chairman Tim Phillips insisted the landmark million pound prize reflected the tournament's desire to provide a fitting reward for the world's best players.
"Wimbledon exists in a highly competitive global marketplace and it is the world's best players who create and drive the interest," Phillips said.
"It is important that we offer a level of prize money which is both appropriate to the prestige of the event and which gives the players full and fair reward.
"It shows that the championships are successful and it shows that we care about the players."
The purse for the champions at Wimbledon has now doubled in the last 10 years and is just below the USD 1.6 million awarded to the winners of the 2009 US Open. The runners-up in the men's and women's events at Wimbledon, which runs from June 21 to July 4 this year, will bank 500,000 pounds (USD 769,618), while the semi-finalists will take home 250,000 pounds (USD 384,782).
Winning the men's and women's doubles events is worth 240,000 pounds (USD 369,334) per pair, while even players in the singles who are knocked out in the first round will earn 11,250 pounds (USD 17,312) for their unsuccessful day's work.
But as well as keeping Wimbledon firmly established as the world's premier tennis tournament, the decision to raise the prize money to unprecedented levels has also been influenced by the slump in the value of the pound.
"We need to offer prize money that is competitive in the international market," Phillips said.
"That means exchange rates become a consideration and the fact that sterling has fallen by 20 to 25 per cent against the dollar and the euro over the past three years means the increases are slightly bigger than has been the case over the last few years.
"The players are what this tournament has been all about and we have to reward them fairly for their extraordinary efforts in this extremely competitive individual global sport."
Even a reduction in Wimbledon's crowd capacity, down from 37,500 per day from the maximum of 40,000 in 2009 while the new Court Three is still being built for the 2011 tournament, is of little concern to such a financially powerful organisation.
"We are in a virtuous circle at the moment. We are investing, we are trying to make things better. Happily that is reflected in our income," Phillips added.
"That means we can look after all the different people who have an interest in Wimbledon a bit better, notably the players in this case."
The 2009 tournament was the first Wimbledon which featured indoor play as the new centre court roof came into use during Andy Murray's rain-affected win over Stan Wawrinka. The atmosphere created by the closed arena was one of the highlights of the competition, but Wimbledon chief executive Ian Ritchie admitted there was no chance of indoor play being introduced as part of the schedule.
"The short answer is no," Ritchie said. "It was clearly a huge success. That was what the roof was designed to do. It delivered a match that might not otherwise have taken place.
"But the protocol regarding the scheduling and order of play is the same as it was last year. When you run into the late slots you get into trouble with public transport."