For love or money
This idiom traces back to the 10th Century and, apparently, has only grown in popularity. "I wouldn't work with them for love or money!" you might exclaim when presented with an unsavoury offer, or "I couldn't do that for love or money" when challenged to an impossible feat.
So popular is this saying that it became the title of no fewer than three films, released in 1993, 2014 and 2019, respectively. BBC One also did a series titled For Love or Money that focused on the dating scams so prevalent online.
Professional athletes have to modify that phrase somewhat to make it suitable for them because they engage in their sport for love and money.
You don't believe that? Let's take a look at how much the AELTC has to allocate their tournament's winners and how that purse will be divided among the best in each event.
Pre- and Post-Pandemic Purses
The All English Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) administers the Wimbledon events; they also allocate a portion of their revenue to paying out Wimbledon prize money.
In the past, there was some controversy over how the prizes were allocated, most notably that female winners were awarded substantially less than men - the logic being that men played five games to women's three. That slight was rectified after the 2007 tournament.
Today, rather than having Gentlemen's and Ladies' events, they are simply headed Singles and Doubles and prize money is awarded according to standing, with no other factor considered.
This year, AELTC has allocated a little over £35 million for tournament prize money, down from the last tournament's £38 million allocation. It's not that they're being stingy, only that they've opted for a different way to account for the event.
Pre-pandemic, the club would afford each player a per-diem amount to cover meals and other expenses. This year, the club has opted to bundle players' daily expenses into the cost of housing the players (and stewards), the cost of which they are also absorbing.
In 2019, the last year the tournament was held, the paid-out per diem allowances totalled £1,081,000. Still, despite there being no per diem payments made to tournament participants this year and factoring in the in cost of accommodations, their overall outlay for the event will exceed the amount they spent in 2019.
As the club is keeping the cost of housing and expensing tournament participants from public scrutiny, we have no way to divulge how much this year's overall costs.
How about we highlight some of our favourite 2021 Wimbledon moments, instead?
Wimbledon Tennis Singles Prize Money
If you had £35 million to give out and lots of people competing for their share of it, you'd surely want to spread it around as fairly as possible, just like the administrators of the Wimbledon tournament strive to do. Theirs is not an enviable task.
For one, they're not dealing with a winner-take-all proposition. All of the players there are professional; they need, deserve and expect compensation for helping to make the tournament what it is.
And then, there's the number of events for which players will be compensated:
- singles men
- singles women
- doubles men
- doubles women
- mixed doubles
- wheelchair singles
- wheelchair doubles
- wheelchair quad singles
- wheelchair quad doubles
The prize qualifications for wheelchair tennis are vastly different than for Singles and Doubles; we'll lay out the pay scale for those athletes later in this article. For now, know that there are plenty of events to compensate players for, and that the job is made easier by not distinguishing between male and female players.
With that bit of knowledge tucked under our cap, let's see what Singles tennis players can earn, starting off with the winners, who will each rake in a hefty £ 1.7 million. Not a bad paycheque for doing what you love, right?
The player coming in second, the runner-up is awarded £900,000 and the player who wins the semi-final claims a bit over half that amount; still a nice payday.
Going further down the line, the quarter-final winners will collect £ 300,000 while the Rounds 1, 2, 3 and 4 winners will see anywhere between £ 48,000 (Round 1) and £ 181,000 (Round 4) hit their bank account and, at the lowest end of the Singles' pay scale, the Q1 winners will collect £8,000, with Q2 winners collecting £ 7,000 more and Q3's top players taking £ 10,000 than that.
The Singles' events are the highest-paid, mainly because they're the most highly anticipated events, as shown by Wimbledon's summary of events for the 2021 tournament.
Wimbledon Winners: Doubles
The Doubles events aren't nearly as well compensated as the Singles' but we're still talking some serious money. The winners walk away with just under a million pounds while, at the lowest end of this event's pay scale, Round One winners pocket £ 12,000.
Contrasting the 64 Doubles teams that are seeded per tournament - exactly half the number of Men's and Women's Single players against the comparatively low chances at walking away with any real money, Doubles competition tends to be rather fierce. It's a wonder that they don't attract more attention.
Of course, that would be 64 Gentlemen's Doubles and 64 Ladies' Doubles, not 64 doubles teams in total.
And that's just the Ladies' and Gentlemen's Doubles. Mixed Doubles admit even fewer teams; 48, to be exact. And the purse is nothing to write home about, especially when compared to the other Doubles' and Singles' events.
For both Doubles and Mixed Doubles, paydays start at Round 1; for Mixed Doubles, the prize is £ 1,500 - an eighth of Doubles' prize. The Quarter-final winners' ratio is narrowed to five - £ 12,000 for Mixed Doubles and £ 60,000 for Doubles.
Those ratios keep getting smaller until, by the time the winners are declared, Doubles' victors receive 2.4 times the money than Mixed Doubles do: £ 240,000 to £100,000.
If Doubles and Mixed Doubles players were strictly British, such a purse might seem paltry but, as players are admitted into the event based on their international rankings, you might consider that players from countries whose economy is vastly different from the UK's, the meagreness of their winnings might seem more palatable.
Among the Wimbledon's Women's winners, Romania's Simona Halep claimed the top Singles prize in 2019. Considering that country's cost of living is one of the lowest in the European Union, her Wimbledon earnings will likely go much farther.
Wimbledon Wheelchair Events
When the average person thinks of athletes, thoughts of wheelchairs seldom enter their minds. After all, the definition of 'athlete' is 'a person who competes in activities that involve, agility, endurance and/or physical strength', all attributes not generally associated with people in wheelchairs.
Fortunately - finally! - the world is coming around to a more inclusive way of thinking about athletics - largely thanks to the Paralympic Games; Wimbledon is helping to lead that charge.
Starting in 2016, the Wimbledon tournament featured Men's and Women's wheelchair tennis Singles events. Granted, it took the club 10 years to incorporate Singles events for wheelchair athletes; wheelchair Doubles had long been a much-anticipated staple of the competition.
It's a bit harder for wheelchair players to play on Wimbledon's iconic grass courts - the only one of the Grand Slam tournaments to still play out on that classic surface. Still, wheelchair tennis players from all over the world relish the challenge so much that the number of events has expanded.
Today, wheelchair tennis players may play Singles and/or Doubles and the quad wheelchair events, made a permanent part of the programme in 2019 also break down into Singles and Doubles competitions.
So how much prize money can wheelchair tennis players win at Wimbledon?
This year, the winner of the Singles event will collect £ 48,000 while the runner-up will receive exactly half that amount. The semi-final and quarter-final winners will pocket £ 16,500 and £11,500, respectively.
Like the Doubles events discussed above, the wheelchair Doubles winners earn far less than the Singles; the top prize is £20,000 and the semi-final winner will be awarded £ 6,000. There are only three award categories for Wimbledon's wheelchair Doubles division.
Quad wheelchair Singles events are compensated the same as the wheelchair events: a top prize of £48,000 with the quarter-finalist taking home £ 11,500 but the quad wheelchair Doubles winner and runner-up will pocket less than half of what the quad Singles players will take home; £ 20,000 for the winner and £ 10,000 for the runner-up.
For quad Doubles players, only those two positions will see any earnings.
You have to take your hat off to AELTC. Despite their reduced prize-money budget, a reduction of 7.85% over the last tournament's outlay, most of the athletes - and all of the wheelchair players are going to see an increase in their prize money.
As quad athletes are the newest permanent division in the Wimbledon tournament, their payday grew by about half while the wheelchair Singles and Doubles' division athletes will see roughly 10% more in their purse.
Where will that money come from, seeing as this year's budget is lower than last tournament's?
Overall, the Doubles and Mixed Doubles are taking the greatest hit, followed by the top ranks of the Singles competitions. In fact, the Singles' winners will take a 27.66% prize money cut this year... but who's going to complain? As long as we all get to enjoy the game.
Now, join our discussion on this year's Wimbledon Male winners...
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