Wimbledon champs get prize money boost

Wimbledon's singles champions will benefit from a prize money rise taking their earnings to £1.1 million ($2.9 million) at the 2011 Championships, organisers announced on Tuesday.

Updated: April 20, 2011 10:51 IST
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London: Wimbledon's singles champions will benefit from a prize money rise taking their earnings to £1.1 million ($2.9 million) at the 2011 Championships, organisers announced on Tuesday.

If men's champion Rafael Nadal and women's winner Serena Williams successfully defend the titles they won last year they will bank a cheque that represents a 10 percent rise of £100,000 on the £1 million prize awarded 12 months ago.

Although the rest of the world continues to endure tough times as the global financial recession continues, there is no sign of the All England Club tightening its belt.

The singles runners-up will earn £550,000, the beaten semi-finalists will get £275,000 and even a first-round loser pockets £11,500 for their efforts.

The total prize money for the 125th Championships, which run from June 20 to July 3, is now £14.6 million, a 6.4 percent increase on last year's amount.

Phillip Brook, the new chairman of the All England Club, defended the announcement of the rises on Tuesday and said: "Leading international sports events such as Wimbledon are all about the quality of the players on show.

"In the competitive world of top-level sport, it is important that we offer prize money which suitably rewards the players both for the box office appeal they bring to the event and their supreme performances on court."

Although Wimbledon remains one of the sport's biggest cash cows, the tournament's bosses are concerned that other tennis events in the United Kingdon could be hit by withdrawals from star players concerned by high taxation.

Athletes who compete in individual sports like tennis and golf are currently taxed a percentage of their endorsements for each day they spend in the UK, whereas team sports like football are exempt from those rules.

That infuriates Wimbledon chief executive Ian Ritchie, who has called on the government to drop the law before events like Queen's and the ATP World Tour Finals -- both staged in London -- lose their appeal to stars like Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick.

"To be fair there's been some sympathy from the government but what we need is some action," Ritchie said.

"To put it in perspective, the money gained from taxation is about £7 million, while the economic impact of the Tour Finals alone is around £100 million.

"In contrast, Barcelona's Lionel Messi can come here for the Champions League final and he doesn't get taxed but Roger Federer does. And there was a situation with the sprinter Usain Bolt when he didn't come recently.

"We have raised it with the government and we will continue to do that.

"We know it is a politically difficult situation in the current economic climate but we hope they recognise the bigger picture.

"I think it will inevitably concern players. We don't believe it is a problem for Wimbledon in terms of people coming here, but we want to encourage people to come for other events and in the discussions we've had with players and agents,it is on their radar."

Ritchie also called on the government to help clamp down on ticket touts at Wimbledon by using the same hefty fines they plan to employ during the 2012 Olympics in London.

Wimbledon's ability to offer such high sums is helped by the worldwide popularity of the tournament, which guarantees another year of capacity crowds during the two-week event and huge commercial revenue.

The overall ground capacity will be up to 38,500 this year as the new 2,000-capacity Court 3 is now ready for use.

It will be the fourth court at Wimbledon to have the Hawkeye system that allows players to challenge calls, while there is also a new Court 4 that takes the number of courts in use back up to 19 from 17 last year.

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