Community, Sustainability, and Responsibility were the key themes as Philip Brook and Richard Lewis unveiled plans for the 2019 Wimbledon Championships which commence on Monday 1st July.
Brook stands down from his role at the end of this year, and began the Spring Press Conference by welcoming his successor Ian Hewitt. The outgoing chairman reflected on his tenure as a period of sustained investment and growth, and was confident that the Club would continue to thrive in the future.
Prize money will rise by 11.8% at the 2019 Championships, the total now standing at £38 million, an increase of £4 million over last year. The two singles champions will each receive £2,350,000, up £100,000 on 2018. As in recent years the biggest prize money increases will go to losers in the Qualifying Competition and in the first, second and third rounds of The Championships proper. Prize money is also being substantially increased for competitors in the wheelchair events.
The New No.1 Court Roof has been completed on time and on budget, and a grand opening ceremony and test event will take place on Sunday 19th May. Featured players will include past champions, John McEnroe, Lleyton Hewitt, Martina Navratilova and Goran Ivanisevic. In conjunction with the opening of the new No.1 Court roof, a charitable initiative entitled ‘A Roof for All’ is being launched by the Wimbledon Foundation with the aim of raising funds to combat homelessness in the Wimbledon area and across London. The Foundation is running an online auction of tennis memorabilia and experiences at wimbledonfoundationauction.com
In a change to the Roof Protocol, any unfinished match played under a closed roof will resume the following day with the roof open. This decision may be linked to the controversy over last year’s semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal being completed under a closed roof whilst the sun was beaming down outside.
Another change to tradition will see play commence on all outside courts at 11am each day. Play will start at 1pm as usual on Centre and No.1 Court.
Various new measures will be introduced to make The Championships more environmentally-friendly. These include the introduction of a 100% recyclable water bottle from Evian, and the removal of 4,500 plastic bags from the tournament’s racket stringing operation.
In his closing remarks, Philip Brook highlighted key areas of action for the Club going forward, and these included “Our Role in the Game,” a reference, possibly, to the need for the Club to exercise wise counsel in the current discussions going on between the ITF, ATP and others about the future shape of the sport worldwide.