Tennis Australia reports that the Australian Open has increased its prize money to 30 million Australian dollars (31 million in US currency) – a record for a major. Tennis Australia CEO Steve Wood made the announcement at Melbourne Park for the Australian Open 2013 launch on Tuesday.
“We are proud to announce this major increase in prize money. We have led the world in prize money for these incredible athletes and we want to ensure that the Australian Open continues to make a major contribution to the financial wellbeing of professional tennis players,” Wood explained.
Wood added that Tennis Australia officials would seek further input from players regarding a more equitable distribution of prize money to help ensure financial viability for lower ranked players.
The $4 million increase is the biggest single increase in the history of the event. Changes for the tournament include:
- retired tennis superstar Andre Agassi to play in a special feature match in the Men’s Legends Event
- Hawk-Eye to be introduced on Show Courts 2 and 3
- new practice and recovery facilities for players, including eight new clay courts in the new National Tennis Centre
- expanded Australian Open Trophy Tour throughout Australia, China and Japan
- the inaugural Asia-Pacific Australian Open Wildcard Play-off to be held in China
- the new Edwin Flack footbridge connecting the MCG with Melbourne Park and AAMI Park
- an expanded Women’s Legends event, including former AO champs Amelie Mauresmo and Lindsay Davenport along with Martina Hingis and Martina Navratilova
- A special Legends Lunch on the final Saturday to honour six-time Australian Open winner Roy Emerson
- new multi-year deals with Rolex, ANZ, Maxxis, Powerade and Mount Franklin
- Australian legend Judy Dalton to be inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame.
Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley also said he was confident that Rafael Nadal will have overcome a knee injury in time to play the tournament.
“Expect Rafa to be one of many great stories in January, including a formidable title defence from our brilliant reigning men’s champion, Novak Djokovic, and some major challenges from the great Roger Federer, US Open 2012 champion Andy Murray and any one of a group of Ferrer, Del Potro, Berdych and Tsonga,” said Tiley.
“It is hard to go past the group of defending champion Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Li Na, our own Sam Stosur and Petra Kvitova. But there are some great emerging talents in the women’s game too. It promises to be an incredible summer.”