Tennis

Wimbledon prize money: How has it changed since 1877?

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Novak Djokovic will be aiming to reach another final in 2014 (©GettyImages)
Novak Djokovic will be aiming to reach another final in 2014 (©GettyImages).

When Spencer Gore won the first Wimbledon Championship in 1877, the prize consisted of 12 guineas and a silver cup. The guineas were worth approximately 12 pounds then, and adjusted for inflation, they would total around 700 pounds today.

Today, the prize amount that Wimbledon Champions take home is a significantly larger sum, although for many tennis players, it’s not a matter of money.

Prize History

Since 1968, Wimbledonhas provided a cash sum along with the coveted silverware. This was the first year that professional players were allowed to enter. Prize money is generated through various means; ticket sales, promotions, television rights and sponsorship are the main contributors.                                                              

After the prize money has been divided between the categories, 90% of the cash that is left (known as ‘surplus’ by the All England Club), is used to improve and develop tennis
within the UK. Obviously, this surplus was nowhere near the amount that we find
today. In 1968, the surplus comprised just £40,000. Today, it exceeds well over £20 million pounds.

Sadly, during this time, and up until 2007, the prize amounts were biased towards the male competitors. For example, the first Wimbledon Men’s single prize sum was £2000. For the Women’s it was only £750. The last time prize money was unequal was during the 2007 championships. Men’s singles winners would be given £655,000 compared to
£625,000 for Women’s singles champions. 

In terms of female player’s prize amounts, these were consecutively less for over two decades. It could be argued that Men’s tennis brings in more revenue as a bigger box office draw.

However, during the 90s for example, it was Women’s tennis that dominated, with players like the Williams sisters, Anna Kournikova, Steffi Graf and Martina Hingis
providing amazing games. It was only fair that both sexes gained an equal share of the prize money.

Contemporary winnings

In 2013, the total combined prize amounts came to a staggering £22.6 million pounds. Today, that has increased by over 10% to £25 million for the 2014 event.

Gentlemen’s singles: £1.76 million

Ladies’ singles: £1.76 million

Gentlemen’s doubles: £325,000

Ladies’ doubles:  £325,000

Mixed doubles (pairs): £96,000

Year-on-year increases for the doubles was 9% and mixed doubles at 6%. Interestingly, the prize money for those who lose in the first three rounds at Wimbledon has steadily increased by over 100% during the last three Championships.

This amount jumped from £11,500 to £27,000. With a recent article on WimbledonDebentureHolders.com suggesting that Brits are backing Andy Murray to repeat his 2013 heroics this year, the UK's number one player could be in line to receive a substantial pay-day in the months ahead.

It was a response to many lower-ranking players, who voiced that they were receiving inadequate payment during the event.   You can find a complete breakdown of the Wimbledon prize money for 2014 here.  It certainly makes for interesting reading.

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