Tim Phillips, the Wimbledon chairman, made it clear Tuesday that he is prepared to rebuff any exorbitant player demands for more money when he announced a 9.5 per cent increase in singles prize money for The Championships this year.
The winner of the men’s title will collect £575,000, an increase of £50,000 on last year, while the women’s champion will earn £535,000 compared with £486,000 in 2002.
With what might be construed as a warning to the ATP before they meet with representatives from Wimbledon and the other Grand Slams in Paris next month to press their claim for more money, Phillips stressed how Wimbledon prize-money is based on the market and fairness.
His argument applied to the annual discussion about equal prize money for men and women as well as to the apparent growing unrest among the men who have given their leader, Mark Miles, a mandate to press their demands.
On the issue of equal prize money he added that Serena Williams, the women’s singles champion, last year earned 11 per cent more during Wimbledon than the men’s singles champion, Lleyton Hewitt, and on average the top 10 women earned 3.3 per cent more than the top 10 men.
This difference is explained by the fact that more of the top women play doubles than men.
Phillips pointed out that Wimbledon have also spent millions in recent years providing improved facilities for the players, including new locker rooms, daily living allowances and, this year, the provision of the first two of eight new practice courts, bringing the total to 22.
The Slams and other tournaments operated by national associations are the only ones who return their profits into the grass-roots of the game — so for every extra £1 that goes in prize money there is £1 less for grass-roots development.
On another old matter — having a roof over Centre Court — Phillips said: “We’re still searching for a solution which will allow the Centre Court to look good and not like an aircraft hanger and one where the grass will still be able to grow and there won’t be a shadow.
There are a lot of complex issues but if we found the right solution that was affordable I think we’d go for it.”