Cash boost and roof for Wimbledon

  • Last Updated: April 23 2013, 15:30 BST

All England Club chairman Philip Brook has defended the decision to offer the largest purse in tennis history at this year's Wimbledon Championships.

Wimbledon: More prize money and a new roof

Prize money has been a hot topic in recent years and there has even been talk of potential strikes due to players' frustrations over the percentage of revenue they receive.

The other three Grand Slams hav announced significant prize fund increases in recent months and now Wimbledon have moved to head off such unrest by revealing a 40 per cent increase in prize money for this summer's tournament, with the £22.6million pot the largest in the sport's history.

The new investment was announced at the same time as plans to put a roof on Court One were announced.

Not surprisingly, Brook was asked to justify the increased investment at a time in which the country is struggling.

"The economic climate is difficult, I would accept that," the chairman of the All England Club and Championships said.

"I think we have to accept that the world that we live in is a world where we are competing with other international tennis events.

"We also keep an eye on what is happening in other sports and we do think that this is a moment in time in terms of how we could respond to a subject that has been talked about a lot over the last 18 months.

"We've chosen to make these increases this year because we think it is the right thing to do.

"It is an important moment of time and we wanted to demonstrate to all the players how much they are appreciated by Wimbledon.

"These are very significant increases. We have made these increases because we want to make them, not because we had to."

The change to prize money will see the winners of the men's and women's singles title take home £1.6million, compared to £1.15million last year.

There is an even greater increase for players losing in the early rounds as the All England Club continues to focus on increasing the pot for those players that need it most.

Losers in rounds one, two and three will see a 60 per cent step change rise this year, thereby increasing the prize money for these players by around 90 per cent over a two-year period.

There is also a 41 per cent increase in prize money for qualifying bringing the two-year increase for this group to 71 per cent - something All England Club chief executive Richard Lewis hopes will benefit the sport as a whole.

"We need to make sure we are competitive as a sport," he said.

"It is not just about the top players, it is about making the sport attractive to the next generation of talent.

"That means players ranked from 50 to 100 and 100 to 200 need to be able to look at the sport and know they can make a good living.

"To be fair to the players and the players' associations, that is one of the points they made to us, which we at never at any stage pushed back on. It is a legitimate point.

"We operate as a global event as a global sport and we need to be competitive for all sorts of positive reasons."

Prize money was one of two substantial streams of investment announced, along with the new Wimbledon Master Plan - a series of new proposals, including the intention to build a retractable roof on court one for the start of the 2019 tournament.

Despite having only finished its last development project in 2011, Brook insisted it was important "not to stand still" and also promised fans will not pick up the slack for the increased investment.

"Fans won't pay the price, absolutely not," Brook said. "This is an affordable increase in terms of our overall operations at Wimbledon.

"We've already had early discussions about ticket prices for 2014 and there will be no significant change.

"If the questions is will this magnitude of increase impact ticket prices to recover money from it, then no.

"We do live and breathe in a competitive environment and we need to respect that and respond accordingly."

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