Wimbledon insider highlights the only way they could be vulnerable in revealing interview
Wimbledon committee member & four-time semi-finalist Tim Henman has shed light on the recent decision to invest huge money into grass court tournaments in the run up to the 2020 tournament
Few people know that most of the £30m profit annually generated from the Wimbledon fortnight is given to the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the governing body of tennis in the UK. But the balance of power is delicate between the two organisations so it came as some surprise when Wimbledon themselves announced they would be investing their own cash and expertise into a variety of grass court tournaments that are due to take place in the three weeks prior to the 2020 Wimbledon Championships.
Officially Wimbledon have said,”The AELTC has worked on ensuring that players have the best opportunities to compete and practice on grass in the lead up to The Championships.
This strategy has included on-going close cooperation with the LTA on the grass court season in Britain, investment into new grass courts in Stuttgart and Mallorca, support of the existing event in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and the expansion of the junior grass court season to three weeks with the creation of a new event in Nottingham this year in collaboration with the LTA.
The new investments announced today, effective from 2020 onwards, are a significant progression of this strategy, aiming to ensure that players will continue to have the best opportunities to compete in high quality grass court tournaments at all levels of the professional game, while also focusing on the commercial success of the grass court calendar as a priority. Through a series of collaborations, the AELTC will become owner, rights or licence holder of four new or relocated tournaments, while continuing to work closely in support of the existing tournaments.”
These pre-Wimbledon tournaments have traditionally been associated with and funded by the LTA, so why are Wimbledon now having to shell out their own money?
tennishead talked exclusively to Tim Henman, Wimbledon committee member, about the announcement.
“For a long time the profit from Wimbledon goes to British tennis so in some respect whether Wimbledon invests in the 3 week gap or the LTA does its kind of the same thing because the money is generated from Wimbledon.
“So when you look at the change from 2 weeks to 3 weeks (for the pre-Wimbledon stretch of tournaments) that was a significant move and the only way that Wimbledon could be vulnerable if is that 3 week gap is not invested in and then grass court tennis dies out and then Wimbledon would be the only tournament on grass.
“Obviously that 3 week period is very very important so Wimbledon have looked at that and said that to have an impact and invest in the game they want to make sure that those tournaments are healthy. Now you’ll see that with the tournament in Majorca and some future announcements Wimbledon is looking to really support those challenger events with increased prize money”
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Tim Henman was speaking as part of Jaguar’s official vehicle partnership with Wimbledon, which saw the Jaguar ambassadors lead a tennis masterclass for a group of Ace Pace competition winners.