By Ros Satar
(April 23, 2013) WIMBLEDON – The key theme for this year’s Wimbledon Spring Press Conference was investment – in the plans for the tournament, and in the pockets of the players.
The Championships 2013 will see the largest prize purse ever in professional tennis, totaling £22.6m/$34.4 million, an increase of 40% from 2012.
As with last year, the largest increase will go to the Qualifying and early Singles losers in Rounds 1-3, with the singles champions each receiving £1.6m/$2.4 million dollars, a 39% increase.
Additionally, doubles players see a 22% increase.
From 2015, there will be a three-week gap between Roland Garros, and The Championships allowing time for players to adjust to the surfaces, also will see the inclusion of an additional grass court tournament in Stuttgart.
“Tennis in an English Garden” was the theme for the unveiling of the new Master Plan.
No. 1 Court will get a fixed and retractable roof, and is expected to be complete in time for 2019.
The All England Club is commencing a program of consultation on planned improvements for the grounds, starting now and running throughout The Championships.
Chairman, Philip Brook, was quick to emphasise that the plans remain for The Championships to remain an outdoor tournament, and there are no plans for night matches.
The proposed remodeling is currently just a vision, with the plan being forecast to improve the grounds over the next 14-15 years, but takes into account much needed upgrading of buildings around the site.
The focus will be on easing some of the congestion around the outside courts, as well as improving the public spaces to enhance the whole public experience within the grounds.
The modeling will see some changes to the fondly named “Henman Hill” complex, which has become a focal point for those visiting The Championships on ground passes, but if anything, should enlarge the area.
In these current economic times, the question was asked how the significant increase could be justified.
Richard Brooks said: “We have to accept that we are competing with other events and other sports.”
He added that there would be no significant increase in ticket prices, and that the funding for the Master Plan would be raised through internal resources.
Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.