Former Wimbledon champions Venus Williams and Andy Murray will receive wild cards to compete in the grass-court Grand Slam tournament when it starts in less than two weeks.
The men’s and women’s singles winners will each get US$2.4-million, a nearly 28-per-cent decrease from 2019, although the overall reduction in prize money is 5.2 per cent, the All England Club also announced Wednesday.
Organizers highlighted plans to have a full crowd of 15,000 at Centre Court for the men’s and women’s finals next month, a year after the tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The tournament begins June 28.
Five-time champion Williams was runner-up in 2017, when she lost to Garbine Muguruza. Williams, who has slipped out of the top 100, turns 41 on Thursday. The former world No. 1 won Wimbledon in 2000, ’01, ’05, ’07 and ’08. She lost her opening match at the French Open on June 1.
Murray, a two-time champion at Wimbledon, earned his first victory in more than a year on Tuesday at the Queen’s Club tournament. It was the 34-year-old Murray’s first grass-court match in three years.
The 124th-ranked British player, a former world No. 1, won Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016. The often-injured Murray is trying to come back from two hip surgeries.
Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz was also given a wild card.
The total prize money will be just under US$49.5-million, down from US$52.1-million in 2019. The biggest decrease (27.7 per cent) is for the men’s and women’s singles winners, who earned US$3.3-million last time. The club said factors included crowd constraints, a “substantial investment” in player accommodations and testing programs.
“As in previous years, and particularly in this challenging year for tour players, the focus of distribution has been on supporting players in the early rounds of the tournament,” the club said, citing a 6.7-per-cent increase in first-round prize money in singles and a 17-per-cent increase in wheelchair and quad wheelchair events.
Under an agreement with the government, capacity will begin at 50 per cent.
As part of a trial COVID-19-status certification, fans must show proof of either vaccinations or a negative lateral flow test. They can also show “their natural immunity” through a positive PCR test in the prior six months.
Face masks will be required while moving around the grounds but not while fans are seated.
Wimbledon’s cancellation in 2020 was the first time since the Second World War that the tournament hadn’t been played.