Wimbledon champions to get big pay rise

Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams parade their winning trophies from Wimbledon last year.
Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams are set to receive big pay rises if they successfully defend their Wimbledon singles titles this year.

This year’s men’s and women’s champions will walk away with £850,000 ($1.24 million), an increase of 13.3 percent, although in dollar teams a decrease because of the weakened British pound. All England Club chairman Tim Phillips said the increase was necessary to offset exchange rate implications and to help maintain the tournament’s standing among players. “Most of the players here don’t bank in sterling,” Phillips told Press Association. “We have to be mindful of the fact that a year ago it was two dollars to the pound and now it’s less than one pound fifty.” Overall prize money on a sterling basis is going up by 6.2 percent from £11.8 million to £12.55 million ($18.38 million). The money is distributed equally for the men’s and women’s events with Wimbledon adopting this policy in 2007 following criticism from officials and players. New developments for 2009 are highlighted by the Centre Court sliding roof with capacity on the ground increased by 3,500 to 40,000. The cash-rich All England Club also announced a five-year extension of its contract with sponsors IBM. In other tennis news, Gael Monfils could miss next month’s French Open because of a left knee injury. The Frenchman reached the semifinals at Roland Garros last year, but was quoted in sports daily L’Equipe on Tuesday saying that the results of an MRI scan on his knee were “not good.” .