Wimbledon has announced a hefty prize-pot hike, along with a new sustainability project aimed at ensuring it is not just the grass courts that remain green at the All England Club. Organisers of the oldest grand slam tournament revealed a prize fund of £34 million for the 2018 championships, up 7.6 percent from last year. That figure includes awards of £2.25 million each for the men’s and women’s champions – an increase on the £2.2 million Roger Federer and Garbine Muguruza received in 2017.
Organisers also issued a warning that players who compete while knowingly carrying an injury, and quit mid-match, face being docked all their first-round prize money. The move is aimed at preventing a repeat of the rash of retirements in early action last year. “In the wake of first-round withdrawals we pledged to act on it, and we have done so,” Wimbledon chief executive Richard Lewis told reporters. “We were very influential in the creation and adoption of the 50-50 rule and hope the introduction of it will play a significant role in mitigating the problems of first-round singles retirements.” Under the new rule, if an injured player withdraws onsite after midday on the Thursday before the Championships they will receive 50 percent of the first-round prize money. The replacement “lucky-loser” will get the other 50 percent. With pound signs dominating the headlines at the club in leafy south-west London, tournament organisers also underlined their commitment to combating corruption in the sport and rolling out a sustainability programme.
Wimbledon’s 2018 prize money eclipses the 55 million Australian dollars (30.2 million pounds) paid out at January’s first grand slam of the year in Melbourne, but at current exchange rates is just shy of the 39.2 million Euros (£34.5 million) on offer at the French Open starting later this month. The USA Open, the final grand slam of the tennis calendar starting in August, is yet to announce its prize money. Wimbledon, the only grand slam event to be played on grass, will take place from July 2-15. This year’s championships mark the 150th anniversary of the club, 50 years of Open tennis and 125 years of the women’s singles championships.