Wimbledon announce plans for another retractable roof at the All England Club

The prize money on offer at the grass court tournament has also been increased by 40 per cent

Wimbledon has never let its fabled grass grow under its feet and the All England Club have announced measures designed to preserve its position at the pinnacle of the game. The “Wimbledon Master Plan” features proposed structural changes over the next 15 to 20 years, including a retractable roof over No 1 Court and new locations for many outside courts, while prize money for this year's tournament will increase by a remarkable 40 per cent to a total of £22.6m.

You would never have guessed that much of the country is struggling to make ends meet given the expansionist mood in SW19. As usual the Club would not reveal the redevelopment costs, though it insisted they were "affordable" and would be funded by "internal resources". Given that the roof over Centre Court was reckoned to have cost more than £100m, the bill for the latest proposals looks likely to be at least double that figure.

Nevertheless, it will be the prize money that raises most eyebrows. In response to demands from players for better rewards - particularly for the lower-ranked competitors - all four Grand Slam tournaments have made significant rises. The Australian Open paid out $Aus30m (£20.2m) this year and the French and US Opens have announced prize funds of 22m euros (£18.8m) and $33.6m (£22m) respectively.

Although he later denied that Wimbledon was seeking to outdo the other Grand Slam events, Philip Brook, the Wimbledon chairman, stated proudly: "This is the largest single increase ever in tennis history and the total prize money of £22.6m is also the largest ever in tennis." He added: "We've made these increases because we want to make them, not because we had to make them."

When asked whether the increases were justifiable in the current economic climate, Brook said: "We need to remain competitive. The prize money landscape has changed significantly over the last year. We needed at the very least to respond to that. I think what we're announcing today is to do a little bit more than that, because we think it's important that we get a message out to the players, who are so important to Wimbledon, about how we feel about them."

The biggest increases, of 62 to 64 per cent, will go to singles players who lose in the first three rounds. First-round losers will each receive £23,500, which for some - especially those Britons awarded wild cards - could amount to around half their total earnings for the year.

Brook insisted that these were "players who are finding their way and not making a lot of money", while Richard Lewis, Wimbledon's chief executive, stressed the importance of making tennis attractive to the next generation. "That means that players ranked from 50 to 100 and 100 to 200 need to be able to look at the sport and know that they can make a good living," he said.

Not that the top players will be going hungry. Prize money for those in the last 16 goes up by 40 per cent, while the singles champions receive a 39 per cent increase of £450,000 to £1.6m.

The "Master Plan", meanwhile, will be implemented after a consultation process this summer. The retractable roof over No 1 Court is not expected to be completed before 2019. The court will be used throughout that period, but there is likely to be one year - as there was with the new Centre Court cover - when the stadium is open to the elements.

Three new Championship courts will be built between No 1 Court and the practice courts to the north of the site. They will replace the current Court 19, which will become a public plaza to ease spectator congestion, and Courts 7 and 11, which are currently among a group of eight courts with little space between them to the south of Centre Court. Court 12 will be moved to a new position south of Court 2.


Suggested Topics
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home