Wimbledon | Initial wild-cards announced for The Championships

The All England Lawn Tennis Club released its initial list of wild-cards on Wednesday, and former Grand Slam champions Emma Raducanu, Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka and Caroline Wozniacki are among those listed for the women’s singles, but former World No 1 and 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep has apparently missed out, although there is still one slot still up for grabs.

Once a player has served any drugs ban, they’re then free to compete in the circuit and, as such, the wild-card committee would consider that, and their performance, when considering that wild-card. Deborah Jevans, Chair at The All England Club

The 32-year old Romanian’s doping ban may be to blame, which was attributed to her not being granted a main draw wild-card into the French Open, despite her also having been a Roland Garros champion in 2018.

Raducanu, who became the first British woman to lift a Grand Slam trophy since 1977 at the 2021 US Open, has been on the come-back trail following multiple wrist and ankle surgeries in 2023.

Last week, the 22-year-old reached her first semi-final since 2022 in Nottingham, lifting her ranking to 165.

Raducanu made the 4th round of Wimbledon in 2021 as a wild-card ranked 338 playing her second tour-level event.

Former World No 1 Kerber, the 2018 Wimbledon champion and 2016 runner-up, has reached the Last 16 of two WTA 1000 events this year, in Indian Wells and Rome, and will be playing Wimbledon for the first time since reaching the 2022 3rd-round.

On her return to grass this week in Berlin, the German fell in 3 sets to Linda Noskova in the 1st round.

3-time Grand Slam titlist Kerber and 4-time major winner Osaka both returned from maternity leave at the start of the season, and have raised their rankings to No 224 and 113 respectively.

Osaka reached her first grass-court quarter-final since 2018 last week in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and was the only player to take a set from Iga Swiatek during the World No 1’s Roland Garros title run earlier this month.

The Japanese will be making her first appearance at Wimbledon since 2019, when she lost in the 1st-round to Yulia Putintseva, while her best showings at SW19 so far have been a pair of 3rd-round runs in 2017 and 2018.

Former World No 1 Wozniacki also returned from maternity leave last August, and is now ranked 114.

The Dane reached the 4th-round of Wimbledon 6 times between 2009 and 2017, but it is the only major at which she has yet to make the quarter-finals.

Wozniacki will be playing at Wimbledon for the first time since 2019, and, on her return to grass this week in Birmingham, she fell in the 1st-round to Elise Mertens.


Wimbledon.com

Joining Raducanu, as home players to receive wild-cards into the ladies singles main draw, are former No 38 and 3-time WTA titlist Heather Watson, who will be playing her 14th Wimbledon main draw; No 218-ranked Francesca Jones, who reached her first tour-level quarter-final on grass in Nottingham last week; and No 147-ranked Yuriko ‘Lily’ Miyazaki, the winner of two ITF W75 tournaments this season.

As for Halep, Wimbledon officials were asked at a recent media conference about the prospect of the Romanian getting a wild-card, and neatly dodged the question.

“Obviously that’s a hypothetical question,” Sally Bolton, Chief Executive Officer at The All England Club, said. “Our wild-card committee meet and make those decisions, they haven’t met. They will be making an announcement about the wild-card decisions on the 19th of June, so I wouldn’t want to pre-judge a consideration of the wild-card committee.”

Deborah Jevans, Chair at The All England Club added: “Once a player has served any drugs ban, they’re then free to compete in the circuit and, as such, the wild-card committee would consider that, and their performance, when considering that wild-card. As Sally said, the wild-card committee will meet and make that determination.”

Meanwhile, Iga Swiatek will be the focus of attention heading the women’s field, as the Pole looks to complete a rare French Open-Wimbledon double, and win her first SW19 title.

The World No 1 reached the quarter-final of Wimbledon for the first time a year ago, and all eyes are on how she will transition from clay to grass, which is possibly her weakest surface in the past.

New World No 2 Coco Gauff is likely to be the second seed at a major for the first time, while two-time semi-finalist Aryna Sabalenka and 2022 champion Elena Rybakina are also among the leading contenders.


New Chair of the AELTC, Debbie Jevans, led the Wimbledon Spring Conference announcing record prize money and other arrangements at The Championships

Wimbledon.com

At the media conference details of this year’s 137th Championships were also revealed, including a record £50m in prize money for this year’s Wimbledon, an increase of 11.9%, ahead of the start of the grass court Grand Slam on 1 July.

This is one of the largest prize purses for a Grand Slam tournament in history, with the overall prize money pot a significant increase on the £44.7m handed out last year, and about a £4m increase on the prize money purse offered at the recent French Open.

The men’s and ladies’ champions will each receive £2.7m for claiming the singles trophies, which is an increase of 15% on the £2.35m that Carlos Alcaraz and Marketa Vondrousova collected for their respective victories last year.

Beaten finalists will get £1.4m, which is an astonishing increase of 19% compared to 12 months ago, while there has been an increase across all singles rounds.

Players who lose in the 1st-round will receive £60,000, an increase of 9% compared to last year, and there is also a substantial pay check for those who come through qualifying.

There has also been a significant increase in prize money for the doubles events and the wheelchair competitions, which take place during the second week of the Championships.


The Chair's Special Guests at The Championships are (L-R) Conchita Martines, Andre Agassi, Chris Evert and Ken Rosewall

Wimbledon.com

Ticket demand ‘has never been greater’ than it was this year, Jevans announced, while there will be a 3-phase progression for the famous Wimbledon queue to enhance the fan experience, from an initial welcome area, through ticket purchase and into a new Activation Zone for those who have to wait to gain access to the grounds.

This new zone will feature activities presented by official partners, food and beverage sales, and a large TV screen.

The Club has been in contact with other Grand Slam hosts about the possibility of creating a domestic violence policy.

“Clearly that’s something that the sport would want to do on a unified basis,” Bolton said about forming a policy. “It is something that is pertinent and therefore has been discussed.”

At the French Open, Alexander Zverev competed, and reached the final, while being involved in a trial in Berlin related to accusations by a former girlfriend of physical abuse during a 2020 argument.

The case ended in an out-of-court settlement hours before Zverev played in the semi-finals in Paris.

The Club has plans in place to celebrate two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray’s career if, as expected, he announces this will be his last appearance at the tournament.

Murray’s 2013 singles title was the first for a British man at the All England Club in 77 years, and he won the tournament again in 2016.

“We’ve certainly got plans in place and we’re ready and prepared, but ultimately it’s Andy’s decision,” Bolton said. “We’ll very much be led by him, and we can amend our plans accordingly. We’re ready in any eventuality.”


Sally Bolton, Chief Executive Officer at The All England Club, fielded questions from the media

Wimbledon.com

Centre Court will continue to begin play at 1.30pm local time, despite concerns expressed by players that the scheduling inevitably leads to late starts for a day’s last match.

“We’ve reviewed it, we’ve thought long and hard and looked at the data around length of matches, and the trends that are occurring in that space,” Bolton said, “And were very confident and happy with the decision that we’ve made this year.”

Added Jevans: “We’re very comfortable with the situation.”

Novak Djokovic, who has won 7 of his 24 Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon, is expected to miss this year’s Championships after knee surgery.

A year ago he advocated that the Club should consider opening Centre Court at noon, but it will continue from 1.30pm as in the past, with Court No 1 starting play at 1pm, and play on the outside courts beginning at 11am.

Because the tournament site is in a residential area, there is an 11pm curfew for play in The Championships, which adds the Club’s comfort.


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