WIMBLEDON, England (AP) – The Wimbledon champions are getting a big increase in prize money this year, at least when it comes to the British pound.
The prize for each of the men’s and women’s champions went up by 13.3 percent to $1.24 million, organizers said Tuesday, but the pound’s weak exchange rate means that translates to a reduction in dollars of 17 percent from last year’s $1.49 million.
Buoyed by a new television contract in Asia and the extension of its commercial agreement with IBM, the tournament has also raised the total prize fund for the June 22-July 5 tournament by 6.2 percent to $18.38 million.
But that still compares unfavorably to last year’s $23.46 million despite the increase being nearly double the 3.4 percent hike the All England Club managed 12 months ago.
All England Club chairman Tim Phillips said the event was doing what it could to help offset the weakened exchange rates and maintain the prestige among players of the only grass-court Grand Slam.
“Most of the players here don’t bank in sterling,” Phillips said. “We have to be mindful of the fact that a year ago it was $2 to the pound.”
The pound has dropped by more than 25 percent against the dollar since last year’s prize money was announced, and has slumped by about 11 percent against the euro. On Tuesday, the exchange rate was $1.45 to 1 pound.
The All England Club also announced a five-year extension of its sponsorship with IBM, which advises on and helps implement new technologies at the event, and said that it had signed a new broadcast deal with Star Sports Asia.
“In this climate, it’s a vote of confidence in Wimbledon,” All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie said. “In the current climate, it would be foolish for anyone to be complacent, but we feel the strength of the brand is coming through and commercial opportunities continuing unabated.”
This year’s tournament will feature the unveiling of a sliding roof over Centre Court.
Ritchie said the tournament was in good financial health despite the global economic crisis, pointing out that the All England Club had received 20 percent more ticket applications than in 2008.
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