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Wimbledon hikes prize money by 10 pc

Wimbledon (England), Apr 24: 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

India TV News Desk [ Updated: April 24, 2012 19:40 IST ]
wimbledon hikes prize money by 10 pc
wimbledon hikes prize money by 10 pc

Wimbledon (England), Apr 24: 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 tennis."

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 pounds.

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 said.

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."

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