The All England Club announced on Tuesday a staggering increase of $9.9 million (£6.5 million) in the total prize money for the winner of the Wimbledon Grand Slam.
The club calls the 40% increase the largest single increase and the biggest total prize fund in the history of professional tennis.
The total prize money for this year’s Grand Slam event will be $34.4 million (£22.6 million), with the men’s and women’s singles champions each pocketing $2.4 million (£1.6 million). Rodger Federer and Serena Williams each received $1.75 million (£1.15 million) for last year.
“These are significant increases and we have made them because we wanted to and not because we had to,” All England Club chairman Philip Brook told reporters at the news conference on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the club said it intends to have a roof installed over Court No. 1 in time for the 2019 tournament. A retractable roof has been in place on the Centre Court since 2009 to cope with the rain delays that have affected Wimbledon.
“The design process will take two years and then, in view of the fact that the Centre Court Roof took three years to construct, we are looking at 2019 for it to be working.”
On the financial justifications of a prize money increase at a time when many people struggled to afford tickets for the tournament due to a harsh economic climate, Brook said Wimbledon had to compete with other major sporting events.
“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.
“We do think that this was a moment in time when we could respond to subject that has been spoken about a lot over the last 18 months and we have chosen to make these increase this year because we feel it’s the right thing to do, “Brook said.
The top gainers of the prize money increase will be players who lose in the early rounds or in qualifying of the grass- court championships.
“We started last year focusing the prize- money increases on those that lose in the early rounds or qualifying,” Brook told Reuters. “These are not players who are superstars (but) players who are finding their way and not making a lot of money.”
Prize money will go up 60% for singles players who lose in the first three rounds. The purse for qualifying is going up by 41%.
Doubles players will receive a 22% increase in prize money.
The Grand Slam will begin June 24 and end July 7.