Wimbledon bosses said they will share 10 million pounds in prize money wealth with players despite the grass-court classic being wiped from the calendar this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The surprise Christmas-come-early news was revealed on what would have been men’s semi-final day at the All England Club.
The most prestigious of the Grand Slams was abruptly cancelled in March as the virus began spreading worldwide, with a pandemic insurance windfall in the millions of dollars paving the way for Friday’s surprise player payday.
But it’s not just competitors who will benefit: the club announced that British match officials and some international ones would also receive cheques, amount unspecified.
Players will benefit the most without having to lift a racquet in anger.
“We are now in a position to allocate prize money to the 620 players whose world ranking would have enabled them to gain entry into The Championships 2020 by direct acceptance into the Main Draw or Qualifying event,” a club release read.
“The AELTC will distribute prize money in lieu of The Championships 2020 with regard for the circumstances of this year and in the spirit of the AELTC’s prize money distribution in recent years.”
The 224 players who would have been entered in the qualifying will each receive a healthy GBP 12,500, while the 256 players who would have competed in the main draw singles will each get double that amount.
Doubles are not left out (GBP 6,250), with wheelchair players taking home GBP 6,000.
“We know these months of uncertainty have been very worrying for these groups, including the players, many of whom have faced financial difficulty during this period and who would have quite rightly anticipated the opportunity to earn prize money at Wimbledon based on their world ranking,” club boss Richard Lewis said.
“We are pleased that our insurance policy has allowed us to recognise the impact of the cancellation on the players and that we are now in a position to offer this payment as a reward for the hard work they have invested in building their ranking to a point where they would have gained direct entry into The Championships 2020.”
The club also said it will end the special grass seeding system which will be binned for the 2021 edition.
“Given the quality of competition, entertainment and modern grass courts, following detailed discussion with the player groups, the AELTC has decided that the grass court seeding formula used since 2002 has served its time,” a statement read.
“From The Championships 2021 seeding for the Gentlemen’s singles draw will be based solely on ranking. There will be no change to the method of seeding for the Ladies’ singles draw.”