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Wimbledon champs get prize money boost

Updated: Apr 19, 2011, 19:13 PM IST

London: Wimbledon`s singles champions will benefit from a prize money rise taking their earnings to 1.1 million pound (USD 2.9 million) at the 2011 Championships, organisers announced.

If men`s champion Rafael Nadal and women`s winner Serena Williams successfully defend the titles they won last year they will bank a cheque that represents a 10 per cent rise of 100,000 pound on the 1 million pound prize awarded 12 months ago.

Although the rest of the world continues to endure tough times as the global financial recession continues, there is no sign of the All England Club tightening its belt.

The singles runners-up will earn 550,000 pound, the beaten semi-finalists will get 275,000 pound and even a first-round loser pockets 11,500 pound for their efforts.

The total prize money for the 125th Championships, which run from June 20 to July 3, is now 14.6 million pound, a 6.4 per cent increase on last year`s amount.

Phillip Brook, the new chairman of the All England Club, defended the annoucement of the rises today and said: "Leading international sports events such as Wimbledon are all about the quality of the players on show.”

"In the competitive world of top-level sport, it is important that we offer prize money which suitably rewards the players both for the box office appeal they bring to the event and their supreme performances on court."

Although Wimbledon remains one of the sport`s biggest cash cows, the tournament`s bosses are concerned that other tennis events in the United Kingdon could be hit by withdrawals from star players concerned by high taxation.

Athletes who compete in individual sports like tennis and golf are currently taxed a percentage of their endorsements for each day they spend in the UK, whereas team sports like football are exempt from those rules.

That infuriates Wimbledon chief executive Ian Ritchie, who has called on the government to drop the law before events like Queen`s and the ATP World Tour Finals -- both staged in London -- lose their appeal to stars like Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick.

"To be fair there`s been some sympathy from the government but what we need is some action," Ritchie said.

"To put it in perspective, the money gained from taxation is about 7 million pound, while the economic impact of the Tour Finals alone is around 100 million pound.”

"In contrast, Barcelona`s Lionel Messi can come here for the Champions League final and he doesn`t get taxed but Roger Federer does. And there was a situation with the sprinter Usain Bolt when he didn`t come recently," said Ritchie.