Australian Open offers record prize money
MELBOURNE - Agence France-Presse
EPA photoThe 2013 Australian Open will offer a record Aus$30 million (US$31.1 million) in prize money, as organisers respond to threats of a boycott from players agitating for a greater share of revenue.
Tennis Australia chief executive Steve Wood said Tuesday the Aus$4 million hike from the last tournament was the single biggest increase in the history of the opening Grand Slam of the season.
"We are proud to announce this major increase in prize money," he said.
"We have led the world in prize money for these incredible athletes and we want to ensure that the Australian Open continues to make a major contribution to the financial wellbeing of professional tennis players." It follows reports in August that players on the ATP Tour, which runs the men's game, were considering a boycott of January's tournament in a bid to gain a higher percentage of Grand Slam event revenues for themselves.
At issue is the pay of lower-ranked players who often exit in the first round after making the long journey Down Under.
While this year they pocketed Aus$20,800 ($21,600 US) for a first round defeat at the Australian Open, some players struggle to make ends meet during the year, as they pay for much of their own expenses and travel.
Without a high profile, they are also unable to score lucrative sponsorship deals that could help sustain their careers.
Wood said Tennis Australia officials would seek further input from the players regarding a more equitable distribution of prize money, with an announcement on the breakdown closer to the tournament.
"We are supporting the lower-ranked players in their quest for compensation," he added.