Net profit: Wimbledon losers given bigger slice of SW19 pot
21:30 GMT, 24 April 2012
In a rare example of noblesse oblige in the harsh and often greedy world of professional sport, Wimbledon and the world's top four players have combined to better the lot of the tennis equivalent of the shop floor workers.
It appears that largely due to the intervention of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Co, those who make up the chorus line at SW19 will get a bumper increase in prize money this year – in the case of first-round losers, 26 per cent.
Record-breakers: Wimbledon are set to pay out their largest ever prize fund
Reversing the trend of recent years,
the singles winner will get 'only' an extra 50,000, a mere 4.5 per cent
increase on last year's 1.1million.
At recent meetings in America,
Wimbledon chairman Philip Brook, who was accompanied by committee member
Tim Henman, met with the Big Four and were given the message that the
rank-and-file deserved a bigger slice of the pie.
It was a bit like Wayne Rooney
foregoing his win bonus this year so that the players of Macclesfield
Town could more easily make ends meet.
Brook said: 'I don't think it would
happen in many sports and I think it shows that you've got four people
of high quality wanting to do their best for the sport as a whole. This
is a group of young men who are very responsible. What we heard was not
just them requesting more money but recognition that they were
representing all the players in the sport.
Wage request: Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer met with championship officials in Indian Wells, California
'Being an international player is an
expensive business and the growth in prize money hasn't been as great
for everyone as it has been for the top players.'
In increasing their overall pot by 10
per cent to a total of 16.1m, Wimbledon outstripped the big rises for
the rank-and-file recently announced by the French Open.
Those who lose in the final round of
the singles qualifying event will get 8,500 for their trouble, while
those who go out in the first round proper will receive 14,500.
Clearly Wimbledon and the other Grand
Slams are trying to head off the recent unrest which has seen players
unhappy at the percentage of revenue from the majors, less than 20 per
cent, being passed on through prize money.
Changes: Wimbledon chairman Philip Brook talks to the media on Tuesday
However, the players union, the ATP, yesterday made it clear they would not be giving up pressing the issue.
'It's encouraging to see an increase
for this year, however the ATP and players remain focused on
discussions with each of the Slams about 2013 and beyond as a top
priority,' said a spokesman.
As ever with these things, the small
print reveals winners and losers. The winners, again, are the women
players who, on the coat-tails of their male counterparts, have achieved
an equal rise despite not having the equivalent commercial clout, while
among the few losers are anyone who plays mixed doubles, for which
there has been no increase at all.
Wimbledon also yesterday confirmed Sportsmail's
revelation of last week that the massive new player facilities 'Bubble'
has been scrapped and that there will be a fresh review of the All
England Club's development under the heading 'Wimbledon 2020'. This could yet feature a roof being built on Court No 1.
The other big change for this year's
Championships is that play will start at 11.30am on the outside courts,
rather than noon, to allow more time for the programme to be finished.
Several new sponsor deals were
announced yesterday, with confirmation that the tournament remains
unaffected by any wider economic recession.
There will be fewer decorative hanging baskets around the site this year but that is due to the drought rather than austerity.