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Wimbledon takes note of players' demands

25 April 2012

brookIt could be said that Wimbledon has reacted positively to last year's calls for a players' strike with their Spring Press Conference announcement aimed at appeasing the cry for more prize money at Grand Slam events.

In it officials have revealed that the traditional increase in their prize money has been used to benefit more players at the bottom end than at the top and follows the chairman, Philip Brook's recent meeting with the game's top male players, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

"There hasn't been any suggestion of industrial action or unrest," Brook said when the point was made to him. "There was a request to go and meet with them in Indian Wells and we respected that request which addressed the rising costs associated with professional tennis.

"In those top four players, we have people of quality and integrity who want to do the right thing for the sport.

"What we heard from them was not a request for more prize money for them but [that] they recognised this was an issue for the sport [and] they were there representing all the players on the tour.

"It is clear more needs to be done for lower end players for whom the rising costs of professional tennis have out-stripped prize money and we are hopeful these changes will be received very positively by the tours."

Consequently the total fund for 2012 is being increased by 10 per cent to £16.1million with the men's and ladies' champions receiving just an extra £50,000 each, taking their prize money to £1.15million with the biggest percentage increases going to those players knocked out in qualifying (21 per cent) and to the first round losers, whose prize money has been boosted by 26 per cent from last year to £14,500.

Brook is confident that Wimbledon has struck the right balance and hopes that it reflects The Championships position in the game.

"This is a world stage in tennis so the prize money at Wimbledon needs to reflect our position on the world stage," Brook said while adding: "We also have to be mindful of the fact we have a need to continue to invest in The Championships.

"We shouldn't forget one of the reasons why Wimbledon is as successful and the title so sought after today is because of the significant investment in The Championships."

And there was also news on that front as the Club revealed that officials were working on a long-term development plan called Wimbledon 2020 to continue improving facilities for both players and the public, which includes the possible addition of a sliding roof over Court One and the cancellation of the Players' Pod.

"We are very clear in our plans that while there has been a lot of great work done here over the last 15 years to get our Championships to this level, there is still a lot more to do," Brook said.

Finally, it was also announced that play on courts Two to 19 will begin half an hour earlier than usual this year, at 11.30 am with gates opening as usual, at 10.30 am.

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