Prize Money, Wildcards and Nastase – 5 things we learned at the Wimbledon Spring Press Conference
By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon
- Total Prize money hike of 12.5%
- Wildcard discussion and a change to reflect the popularity of Qualifying
- Wimbledon will enforce the ITF’s suspension of Ilie Nastase after his Fed Cup outbursts
WIMBLEDON, UK – Continuing its commitment to invest in both the future and the current Championships, the All England Club unveiled its latest progress and prize money details.
No. 1 Court Roof
The No. 1 Court Project is on course and progressing well for there to be a retractable roof on No. 1 Court by the 2019 championships, working to the same three-year project time-frame as they had for the Centre Court roof implementation.
In fact, the same exercise for Court 1 is a far more complex beast in both size and scale than for Centre Court, and will include of course a new retractable roof, wider and more comfortable seating, a new public plaza in place of Court 19 (which is scheduled for 2018) and improved concession and catering areas and hospitality facilities.
This year a partial fixed roof will be in place with the same capacity as last year at 11,500.
The total prize pot for The Championships 2017 has seen a 12.5% increase from £28.1m last year to £31.6m. The Gentlemen’s and Ladies Singles Champions get a 10% increase on last year to £2.2m.
The Gentlemen’s and Ladies Doubles see a 14.7% increase and there is a 33% increase in Gentlemen’s and Ladies Wheelchair Singles. In addition there is a continued focus on enhancing the prize money for the Qualifying and early rounds, with the Per Dem at Qualifying equalling that of the main draw.
With the popularity of the previous free to view qualifying rounds at the Bank of England Sports Ground in Roehampton, not to mention the ever present security concerns, for the first time the Qualifying event will be ticketed for a £5 entry fee. All funds raised will be donated to the Wimbledon Foundation.
The increase will allow for security measures to be met, and operational improvements including two inflatable court covers for this year with 10 more to be added in 2018.
The AELTC Ticket Office will not be handling ticket sales for qualifying and further information will be announced in due course.
Unless you have been living under a tennis rock for the last couple of weeks, you cannot have missed the ongoing discussions of wild-cards especially in the case of Maria Sharapova, who returned to tour competition in Stuttgart at the end of last month.
She made a spirited run to the semi-finals and is now ranked No. 262 in the world, but she needs to be safely in the top 100 to qualify as of right, or face the qualifying rounds. With deep results at Madrid and Rome, she can help her cause, but may still need a helping hand for the French Open.
Of course the question was posed – had the changes to the popular Qualifying event been made to coincide with the possible appearance (and presumably accompanying spectator and media frenzy)?
All England Club Chief Executive Officer Richard Lewis said: “It is actually unrelated, genuinely unrelated, and we know that qualifying needs to continue to be improved, just like we improve facilities here at the Championships. It’s part of an ongoing process.”
As of yet, Sharapova has yet to request a wild-card of any description into The Championships 2017, and the Tennis Sub Committee to decide the wild-cards will meet on Tuesday 20 June, with a number of possible criteria, as described by Philip Brook, Chairman of the AELTC and The Championships:
- British players who may be of interest to The Championships
- Performances of players in the lead-up tournaments
- Strong playing record at Wimbledon
Few can forget the spectacle of Ilie Nastase in his full Romanian military regalia in the Royal Box. It was made very clear my Richard Lewis that the All England Club would be supporting the suspension of the ITF from events, with Philip Brook confirming that Nastase would not be receiving an invitation to the Royal Box this year.
The Championships 2017 take place between 3-16 July.
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