Wimbledon first-round losers set to be financial winners

April 30, 2014 - 8:01:39 am
Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland returns the ball to Samantha Stosur of Australia during their first round match for the Portugal Open tennis tournament in Estoril, Portugal, yesterday. Bacsinszky won 6-4, 6-0.

LONDON: First-round singles losers at this year’s Wimbledon championships will receive £27,000 ($45,400) prize money as organisers continue to help the sport’s lesser lights make ends meet.

Outlining how the grasscourt grand slam’s increased 25 million pounds prize pot will be distributed, the All England Club announced a 14.9 percent raise for first-round losers in the main draw of the men’s and women’s singles.

At the top end this year’s singles champions will bank £1.76m ($2.9m), a 10 percent increase on the £1.6m Andy Murray and Marion Bartoli earned last year.

That compares favourably with the 1.65m euros ($2.3m) for the singles champions at next month’s French Open while Stanislas Wawrinka and Li Na earned $2.65m for their wins at the Australian Open in January.

All England Club chief executive Richard Lewis justified the increased level of prize money for early-round losers yesterday at the annual news conference ahead of the Championships.

“I slightly take issue with that,” Lewis told reporters when questioned whether the prize money on offer for first-round losers was appropriate.

“They have worked hard to get here for 12 months either through their world ranking or through qualifying. By being in a main draw of a grand slam means they are world class players.

“The costs and expenses involved in being a top-100 player are huge and while they are not pleading poverty they are not making huge sums of money either for world class athletes.”

Since 2011 Wimbledon’s annual prize money increases have been heavily weighted towards the losers in the earlier rounds - a move designed to placate lower-ranked players who struggle to balance the books compared to those in the top 10.This year’s increase means first-round prize money has risen by a massive 135 percent in three years, compared to a 60 percent increase for the champions.

“We’ve placed emphasis on the large group of players who need our help the most, those players who lose in qualifying and in the early rounds of the championships,” Wimbledon chairman Philip Brook said.

“We also had an eye to being competitive internationally, and we do keep our watch on what is going on in other tennis events and in particular the other grand slams.” First-round losers at the US Open last year earned $32,000, at this year’s Australian Open 30,000 Australian dollars ($27,800), while at the French Open in 2013 they got 21,000 euros ($29,100). This year’s tournament will be held from June 23 to July 6.  Reuters