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French Open embraces esports, raises prize money

Organisers of the French Open tennis grand slam have announced plans to enter into the esports market, along with unveiling an increase of around €3m ($3.7m) to the prize purse for this year’s tournament.

Plans for this year’s event were unveiled in Paris yesterday (Wednesday), with the SportBuzzBusiness.fr website stating they include an esports competition backed by main sponsor BNP Paribas.

The French financial services company last year extended its sponsorship of the French Open under a new five-year deal with the French Tennis Federation (FFT). Under the agreement, the company will continue to serve as the official and principal sponsor of the French Open until 2021.

As part of the deal, BNP Paribas said it would support the tournament through various digital projects and international activations. This is now set to include the Roland-Garros e-series by BNP Paribas.

SportBuzzBusiness.fr said the series will be held in April, with competitions staged in France, the UK, Belgium, Italy, Germany, China, India and Brazil. It will use a demo version of the Tennis World Tour video game, which will be officially released in May. The winners from each country will progress to a final staged at Roland Garros on May 25, during this year’s French Open.

Meanwhile, Roland Garros has said prize money for the French Open will reach €39.197m. The men’s and women’s singles champions will pick up cheques for €2.2m apiece, an increase of €100,000. The 2017 French Open offered prize money of €36m.

The 2018 Australian Open offered a 10-per-cent increase in the total prize money pool for the opening grand slam of the year. The total figure rose to Aus$55m (€36.3m/$42.8m) from Aus$50m. 

In July, the US Open confirmed its position as the most lucrative of the four slams by announcing that the total prize money for the 2017 tournament would be $50.4m. Last year’s Wimbledon Championships featured a prize fund of £31.6m (€35.3m/$41.7m).