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Wimbledon officials defend prize money increase

The All England Club, organiser of the Wimbledon Championships, has defended its decision to increase prize money for this year’s event to a total of £26.75m (€37.4m/$41m), the highest of the four grand slam tennis tournaments.

The amount on offer at the 2015 tournament represents an increase of seven per cent, or £1.75m, in comparison with the total prize money awarded at last year’s event, whose singles titles were won by Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova.

Winners of the men’s and women’s singles tournament will each receive just under £1.88m, up approximately seven per cent on the £1.76m awarded at the 2014 event. First round losers will each take home £29,000, which represents a significant jump on the £11,250 awarded to each player that exited the tournament in the opening round five years ago.

Elsewhere, organisers have confirmed an average increase of five per cent in prize money for the men’s, ladies’ and mixed doubles tournaments. Men’s and women’s double winners will earn £340,000 while mixed doubles winners will receive £100,000. Players in the wheelchair doubles competition will also benefit from an average 28 per cent year-on-year increase in prize funds.

The total increase will mean that the prize money on offer at this year’s Wimbledon is greater than at any other grand slam tennis event. All England Club chairman Philip Brook said the prize purse will be the “highest prize money ever in professional tennis”.

“Without the world’s best tennis players we wouldn’t have the world’s best tennis tournament, and we recognise the players are an essential ingredient of our championships,” Brook said at a press conference today (Tuesday).

“The level of prize money is affordable to this championship, so we feel it’s important we should reflect that through what we pay the players. I think you’ve seen now that some other tournaments are reacting to what we did two years ago, so there are some big increases in other grand slams and other masters events in response to what we did two years ago.”

Although the increase means a record amount of prize money will be awarded at Wimbledon this year, the rise is slower than in other grand slam tournaments. The French Tennis Federation (FFT) confirmed earlier this month that the 2015 French Open will feature a total prize purse of €28m, up 12 per cent on the previous year.

Australian Open organisers announced in January that this year’s event would feature a record prize purse of A$40m, following an initial 10 per cent increase confirmed in October last year.

Elsewhere, total prize money for the 2014 US Open was increased by 11.7 per cent to a record $38.3m. Organisers of the US tournament are yet to confirm the prize money on offer at this year’s event.