British tennis star Johanna Konta has called on authorities to review how prize money is distributed for major tournaments like Wimbledon.
“There needs to be a responsibility to ticket holders and what they are paying to see,” Konta told The Telegraph.
Her comments come after eight players pocketed £35,000 despite being injured or unfit during the first round of singles matches earlier this week.
Two of those players re-entered Wimbledon to compete in the doubles bracket. This means they can claim more prize money despite their alleged injuries.
The best example of that involves Feliciano López. On Tuesday, ticket holders saw López retire during the fourth set of his first round match against Adrian Mannarino. Lopez said he quit because of a “foot injury.”
However, López courted controversy when he returned to contest a first round doubles match just 24 hours later.
López lost the doubles match but netted £5,375 for that first round doubles appearance, ensuring his Wimbledon pay packet reached £40,375.
Konta says the high profile withdrawals means “something will be reassessed.”
Tim Henman, a director of the All England Club, agrees with Konta but concedes that there is not yet a solution. Players, after all, will feel that they have earned the right to receive the prize money by virtue of having qualified for Wimbledon.
“We need to find a balance so they [the players] get some of the money they have earned [by qualifying for Wimbledon] but give someone else the opportunity to be really competitive,” he told the Evening Standard.
“I don’t have a solution for that yet… but we need to find one.”
The Wimbledon media office told Business Insider they “had nothing to add” to Henman’s statement.
Prominent tennis players are clearly pushing for a review, though.
Former world number one Roger Federer addressed the subject when he beat Alexandr Dolgopolov on Tuesday. Dolgopolov retired in the second set of the first round match with Federer, who sympathised with fans who had paid £55 for tickets expecting to witness “proper tennis.”
Federer said perhaps major tournaments like Wimbledon should follow the example of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). The ATP is currently trialling new rules that attempt to prevent injured or unfit players from competing in tournaments.
“The ATP adjusted its rule,” Federer said in The Telegraph. “Maybe the Grand Slams should adopt some of that. Maybe they should have a look at what they could do for the players to make it just a little bit easier.
“I feel for the crowd,” Federer said. “They’re there to watch good tennis, proper tennis.”
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