The ATP World Tour announced, this morning, that there will be an increase of prize money in all ATP500 events starting next year. The plan, spread over the next five years, will boost those tournaments’ overall prize money from this year’s $17.6 million to $30.8 million in 2018, a very significant increase.
On top of the prize money increase, the ATP also announced that the Aegon Championships (Queen’s Club) and the Gerry Weber Open (Halle) will see their status change from ATP250 to ATP500 from 2015 onwards.
Those two tournaments’ upgrade adds itself to a series of changes to be implemented to the grass season, all starting in 2015.
The first change that had been announced was the addition of a week between Roland-Garros and Wimbledon, which permitted the second change: the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart will be played on grass rather than on clay, and will, of course, see its place in the calendar moved to before Wimbledon.
As for Queen’s and Halle, that change of status has been long overdue, especially in the case of the British tournament, which has had a draw worthy of an ATP500 event for years.
As the Chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, Philip Brook, mentioned, “When we announced the creation of a three-week gap between Roland Garros and Wimbledon from 2015, our aim was to establish a longer and more significant grass court season as part of the international tennis calendar. Many people have since worked very hard to bring this about and I am delighted to welcome today’s announcement of the increases in prize money and the elevation in status of the Aegon Championships and Gerry Weber Open. Both events have been key pillars in promoting grass court tennis for many years and I wish to thank the ATP, LTA and Halle for their contribution and enthusiasm in helping to turn an exciting vision into an exciting reality.“
The changes in the grass court season are most welcomed, especially as far as tennis tradition is concerned. Grass is, after all, the root of the game, and it is rejoicing to see it slowly regain a more significant (and long overdue) place in the season.