How 'Big Four' earned a pay rise for tennis colleagues

Story highlights

  • 'Big Four - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray - secure prize rise
  • Wimbledon prize money rises by 10% to £16.1m - the biggest increase in 19 years
  • Largest increase will go to players knocked out early - up 26.1% for first-round exits
  • Follows French Open's lead which gave first-round losers a 20% boost and prize of $23,670

They've earned admiration around the world for their on-court prowess, not to mention the enviable sum of more than $160 million in prize money between them.

Now the "Big Four" of the men's tennis world have helped negotiate a pay rise for their lower-ranked colleagues.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have joined forces to convince Wimbledon chiefs to increase the prize money for this year's tournament to £16.1 million ($25.9 million).

It's a 10% increase on last year's £14.6 million ($23.5 million) total, representing the biggest rise in 19 years.

The largest slice of the cash will go to players making an early exit in late June, with first-round singles losers to each scoop £14,500 ($23,400) -- up 26.1% on last year.

The singles champions, meanwhile, will see their prize money rise by just 4.5%, though this will still leave them with a tidy sum of £1.15 million ($1.85 million) each. Djokovic won the men's title last year to become the new world No. 1, while Petra Kvitova will also be defending her title in London.

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Every round of the grass-court tournament will see increases, with those in the quarterfinals enjoying a rise of 5.5% to £145,000 ($233,720).

The decision aims to quell growing grumblings within the sport over the amount of money being offered to lesser players who are failing to meet rising costs.

Those knocked out in the earlier rounds are increasingly struggling to cover travel costs or employ a regular coach, and there had been rumors of players preparing a strike in protest. However this was denied by chairman of the host All England Club, Phillip Brook.

The Wimbledon chief said the decision followed a meeting with the Big Four at Indian Wells last month. He insisted the issue of strikes was never discussed.

"Wimbledon continues to be successful and we are delighted to share that success with the players by increasing total prize money by 10%, the largest increase since 1993," he said.

"At the same time, we appreciate the need to help players meet the rising costs associated with professional tennis, so the majority of the record £1.5 million increase will be distributed to those who are knocked out in the early rounds of the championships."

Wimbledon follows the lead of the French Open, which last month increased its overall prize purse by 7% to $24.6 million. Similarly, the biggest rise went to first-round losers, who picked up a 20% boost -- a prize of $23,670.

In comparison, singles champions at Roland Garos scored an increase of 4.17%, giving them total prizes of $1.64 million each.

The pressure will now be on the two other grand slams to follow suit.

Growing unrest started at last year's U.S. Open, where Murray and Nadal were particularly vocal about the uneven distribution of prize money. The New York event's singles champions earn $1.8 million and first-round knockouts get $19,000.

At January's Australian Open, title winners earned $2.37 million each, compared with $21,500 for players who lost at the first hurdle.

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