Grand Slam Tennis prize money 2013
While players on the ATP tour and the Challenger tour have had contrasting fortunes, literally, with prize money over the last 35 years (see last post), the Grand Slams have both increased prize money and distributed it more or less equally. This shows that prize money allocation is as much about the will of tournament organisers as it is about economics. While this is a welcome turn of events, the disparity between Grand Slam pay and Challenger tour pay has a broader set of implications that will be the subject of the next post.
There’s been a great reaction to the last post here both on twitter and around the web. That post was about the diverging trends in ATP Challenger and ATP main tour prize money: it pays to be on the main tour and since 1978 adjusting for inflation prize money for main tour players increased 219% while it decreased for Challenger tour players by 29%.
What that post didn’t do was to analyse Grand Slam prize money. This post does.
Grand bargain at the Grand Slams
The picture at Grand Slams, and certainly more recently, is more refreshing for those struggling to make a living from the game. Since 1990, adjusting for inflation and averaged across all four Grand Slams, prize money for first round losers (R128) has increased by 300%; prize money for Grand Slam winners has increased 350%. Compared to other parts of the men’s tour (see above) where the stars of the game have seen far greater prize money gains – and for the most part deservedly so – this is remarkable parity. It is also a testament to the popularity of the sport.
However, the increase in prize money has not been uniform across the rounds nor without some controversy. Between 2004 and 2010, prize money for the early rounds (R128, R64, R32 or the first three rounds) increased just 6%; prize money for the winner and finalist increased by 78%.
This inequality led Sergi Stakhovsky, an outspoken supporter for the journeyman tennis professional, to lobby Wimbledon for an increase in prize money. His success in helping to secure greater parity for early round losers, see below, demonstrates that prize money allocation is as much about the will of tournament organisers as it is about the star quality of leading players.
Percentage increase in Grand Slam Prize Money by grouped round 1990-2014, adjusted for inflation
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