Wimbledon organisers unveil prize hike for 2017 championships

By Ossian Shine
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 28/6/16 A general view of the Wimbledon logo in the rain REUTERS/Toby Melville

By Ossian Shine

LONDON (Reuters) - This year's Wimbledon singles tennis champions will receive 2.2 million pounds ($2.84 million) each – a hike of 200,000 pounds for both the men's and women’s winner, organisers said on Wednesday.

Tournament chiefs unveiled the increased winners' cheques among a larger total prize pot of 31.6 million pounds, up from 28.1 million pounds last year.

The bigger pot benefits players throughout the draw, with first round singles losers set to walk away from the All England Club with 35,000 pounds.

In percentage terms, first round losers benefit the most -- their prize being almost 17 percent higher than last year, reflecting the club's commitment to the lower reaches of tennis.

"We are proud of the important leadership role that Wimbledon plays locally, nationally, and internationally, and are committed to continuing to invest to secure the future of The Championships, and of our sport, for the years to come," club chairman Philip Brook said.

The winners' cheques for the men's and women's singles has doubled since 2011.

Brook said the club had "taken into account" exchange rates, but that the "Brexit effect" had not been instrumental in their calculations.

"Exchange rates go up and go down over time," he said. "In my time with the club I think all four grand slam tournaments have led on prize money, and now the U.S. dollar is particularly strong."

The pound has fallen 14 percent against the dollar since Britain's vote to leave the European Union last June.

The U.S. Open has yet to announce its 2017 prize money while this month's French Open recently announced that total prize money had risen 12 percent from last year's levels to 36 million euros ($39.27 million).

Both the men's and women's singles winners at Roland Garros will receive a cheque for 2.1 million euros ($2.29 million).

The grass-court grand slam tournament takes place on the fringes of south-west London from July 3-16: the latest start for the tournament since 1895.

Organisers said work to install a roof on Court One -- the second-biggest showcourt after Centre Court -- was on schedule and would be completed in time for the 2019 championships.

($1 = 0.7741 pounds)

($1 = 0.9168 euros)

(Editing by Richard Lough and Ken Ferris)