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SBD Global/April 24, 2013/Finance

Wimbledon Announces 40% Prize Money Increase, Winners To Take Home $2.4M

Top tennis players such as Roger Federer could see bigger paychecks at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships.
Wimbledon "shattered the prize money ceiling" Tuesday when it announced a 40% year-on-year increase for the '13 tournament, according to Neil Harman of the LONDON TIMES. The "largest financial pot ever" in tennis history includes a 39% increase in prize money for the two champions and "huge benefits for those in the qualifying competition and who lose early in the main draw." There was "an audible gasp from the ranks of writers present at the All England Club when the figures were revealed." Weekend reports had indicated the champions might earn £1.5M ($2.2M) this year. They were "decent guesses, but guesses they were." If Roger Federer or Serena Williams successfully defend their singles crowns, they will take home £1.6M ($2.4M), about £450,000 ($687,000) more than they won last year (LONDON TIMES, 4/23).

JUSTIFYING THE INCREASE: REUTERS' Martyn Herman reported players at this year's tournament "will receive a total" of £22.6M ($34.5M). All England Club Chair Philip Brook said, "These are significant increases and we have made them because we wanted to and not because we had to." Asked if the rises were justifiable during a harsh economic climate in which many people struggled to afford tickets for the tournament, he said that Wimbledon "had to compete with other major sporting events." Brook: "I know the economic climate is difficult, I accept that, but the world that we live in is a world where we are competing with other international tennis events and we also keep an eye on what is happening in other sports." Players who lose in the opening three rounds at Wimbledon this year "will be the chief beneficiaries of the prize money rises with increases" of between 62% and 64%. Those who fail to survive a match at the championships will be rewarded with a £23,000 ($35,000) cheque, up from £14,500 last year. Even defeat in the qualifying rounds will be tempered by a 41% rise with £12,000 ($18,300) going to players "who fall at the last hurdle before the main draw" (REUTERS, 4/23).

MONEY SHARING: In London, Chris Jones reported the announcement "follows extensive discussions between the star performers and Grand Slam organisers to try and ensure players share more of the money generated by the major tournaments." Wimbledon "has now eclipsed" the U.S. Open, which will offer around £22M ($34M) prize money when Andy Murray defends his title in June. However, the prize money "is likely to exceed" £33M ($50M) by '17 (EVENING STANDARD, 4/23).

KEEPING THE STARS HAPPY: In London, Kevin Mitchell wrote Brook "is a mathematician, given the staggering numbers he had to run" through on Tuesday when unveiling "the largest single increase and largest total prize money in the history of professional tennis." Although Brook was quick to say this was "not about bragging rights," there is "the whiff of a wages war in tennis." Wimbledon "will bow to no one" in keeping the likes of Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal happy -- especially since Flushing Meadows in '11, when "a demand for a greater percentage of the take brought the Association of Tennis Professionals perilously close to considering industrial action." The game's elite "also insisted that the Tour battlers be better paid." On Tuesday, they "all got their dividend" (GUARDIAN, 4/23).

NEW TV DEAL: In London, Stuart Fraser reported a new multi-tiered media partnership in China "has also been agreed." The deal includes an agreement with national sports broadcaster CCTV5, who "will broadcast The Championships to 250 million homes" (DAILY MAIL, 4/23). Also in London, Simon Briggs wrote Wimbledon’s TV income "has been climbing substantially," both through the establishment of a new long-term deal with ESPN for American coverage, which began last year, and the "expansion into China via the new contract with national sports broadcaster CCTV5" (TELEGRAPH, 4/23).
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