Coronavirus: Wimbledon hailed as 'class act' over £10million payout to sidelined stars

By Sports Desk July 10, 2020

Wimbledon has been praised for its "amazing" decision to pay players £10million from a prize money pot despite the 2020 tournament being cancelled.

The All England Club (AELTC) had pandemic insurance, meaning its decision to call off the championships in April was not one that risked becoming a huge financial blow.

It was revealed on Friday that 620 players would benefit, based on world rankings, potentially handing a lifeline to lowly players from across the world who may be struggling to make ends meet.

Wimbledon is paying out £25,000 per competitor to 256 players from the men's and women's singles, and £12,500 to a further 224 players who would have taken part in qualifying.

Doubles players and those from the wheelchair events will also collect money from the fund, with Wimbledon stressing there would be only one payment per player, meaning there could be no claims for multiple events.

Three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters wrote on Twitter: "Amazing news — always a class act and leader of our sport!! Well done @Wimbledon – can't wait to be back next year!"

Clijsters, 37, was in the early stages of a comeback after seven years in retirement when the COVID-19 outbreak led to tennis being suspended across the globe.

The Belgian is a two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist who would have almost certainly received a wildcard into this year's tournament.

Spain's Paula Badosa, the world number 94, indicated what the windfall would mean to rank-and-file players.

"Such a nice gesture @Wimbledon on these tough moments. Means the world for us, thank you," Badosa wrote.

Wimbledon said its decision was taken "in the spirit of the AELTC's prize money distribution in recent years".

This year marked the first time Wimbledon had been called off since World War II. Its finals would have been contested this weekend.

AELTC chief executive Richard Lewis said: "Immediately following the cancellation of the championships, we turned our attention to how we could assist those who help make Wimbledon happen.

"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.

"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."

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    The major will take place behind closed doors in New York amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and is scheduled to begin on August 31.

    Men's and women's singles winners in 2020 will receive $3million, down from the $3.85m that was paid out last year, with the total player compensation package dropping from a record $57.2m for the previous edition to $53.4m.

    While runners-up, semi- and quarter-finalists will also see their payouts reduced, a first-round appearance will earn $61,000 in 2020 – an increase from $58,000 in 2019.

    The USTA will also provide $6.6m in grants and subsidies to players due to the absence of a qualifying tournament and a reduced doubles draw.

    "We're proud to be able to offer a player compensation package that maintains nearly 95 per cent of the prize pool from 2019," said USTA CEO and executive director Mike Dowse.

    "The prize money distribution for the 2020 US Open is the result of close collaboration between the USTA, WTA and ATP, and represents a commitment to supporting players and their financial well-being during an unprecedented time."

    Men's reigning champion Rafael Nadal and women's world number one Ash Barty have opted out of the US Open due to concerns about COVID-19.

  • Nadal respects US Open participants that are motivated by prize money Nadal respects US Open participants that are motivated by prize money

    Rafael Nadal will respect the decision of any player who competes in the US Open for much-needed prize money as he further explained why he will not be taking part.

    World number two Nadal announced on Tuesday he will not defend his title in New York due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

    The ATP Tour has been suspended since March but is due to resume this month, with the US Open scheduled to get under way behind closed doors on August 31.

    As well as having concerns about the global health crisis, Nadal thought playing hard-court tournaments immediately before the rescheduled clay-court swing could have hindered the potential longevity of his career.

    However, the 34-year-old acknowledged not all players can afford to pass up the prize money on offer at the major following a heavily disrupted season.

    "In the current situation all decisions are valid," Nadal told a news conference on Wednesday.

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    "Secondly, there is a complicated calendar after many months without competing. To play on the hard surface first and then change to clay without a break is dangerous for my body and for my future, so this is another factor.

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    "I am not the one to say whether it is a wise decision or not [to stage the US Open]. I respect all the work and the positive attitude of the ATP and the USTA [United States Tennis Association] to make tennis come back.

    "I also respect the other players who decide to go, because they have, for example, a different situation and want to earn money there that they need. I respect all decisions, but today it is difficult to say if it is the right thing or not."

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    Martic – the tournament's top seed – triumphed 6-0 6-3 in just over an hour as she played for the first time since February, the WTA Tour having been suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    The clay-court event in Italy has seen action resume on the Tour, though world number two Simona Halep withdrew before the event started due to travel concerns.

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    Marketa Vondrousova won the opening set with ease, yet the second seed slipped up after such an impressive start, serving up double faults during her 1-6 7-5 6-4 defeat to Kaja Juvan.

    Elise Mertens, the fifth seed, is also out. The Belgian went down 6-4 6-1 to Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

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