Wimbledon is increasing its prize pot, but thanks to Brexit, non-British tennis players may make less than in previous years
Thanks to the pound’s post-Brexit fall, American visitors to this year’s Wimbledon Championships will find tournament fare like strawberries and cream and Pimms’ Cups more affordable than before. But those actually hitting the court in their tennis whites will be less happy.
The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC), organizer of the world’s longest running tennis tournament, just announced that it would be increasing this year’s total prize fund to £31.6 million ($40.7 million), or 12.5% more than last year when converted to British pounds. The men and women’s singles champions at this summer’s affair, which runs July 3 to 16, will each take home about £2.2 million ($2.83 million), which translates into a 10% raise in the U.K.’s currency.
But for Americans, these increased winnings won’t fully make up for the post-Brexit fall of the sterling, On June 23, the date of last year’s British referendum to leave the European Union, a pound fetched about $1.46. Today, it buys just $1.29, or about 88% of what it was worth last year. That means that Serena Williams, who won the past two ladies singles’ titles, would need to receive $2.9 million this year in order to match what she’d have won before the sterling’s plunge. (That said, the recently pregnant tennis legend isn’t slated to compete this July.)
While the Club reviews its compensation policies yearly—in 1968, the gentlemen’s singles winner received £2,000, while the ladies champion won £750—currency fluctuations gave this year’s discussions additional urgency. “We do look at the exchange rates,” AELTC chairman Philip Brook admitted, per the Financial Times.
Brook denied that tennis players were getting a pay cut, but added that the larger prize pots offered by the other three tennis grand slams—in New York, Paris and Melbourne respectively—also forced the Club’s hand. For instance, singles champions at the 2016 U.S. Open took home $3.5 million each.
That said, save your tears: the bookie favorites for this year’s Wimbledon Championships are going to be perfectly fine financially. Scotland’s Andy Murray, the bettors’ predicted male champion, is worth an estimated $23 million. His female counterpart, Germany’s Angelique Kerber, has already won almost $600,000 in prize money this year.
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