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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 April 2006, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Wimbledon defiant over equal pay
The Wimbledon men's singles trophy
The 2006 men's singles champion will earn 655,000
Wimbledon has chosen to remain the only Grand Slam not to offer its men's and women's champions equal prize money.

The All England Club has unveiled its 2006 prize money with the men's winner earning 655,000 compared to the 625,000 first prize for the women.

Last month, French Open organisers announced that for the first time they would reward their champions equally.

The other two majors - the Australian and US Opens - have been long-time supporters of equal prize money.

The total prize pot at Wimbledon tops 10m, with the singles prize money increased by 4% since 2005.

The 2005 women's champion Venus Williams was disappointed that organisers did not announce equal prize money for this year's event and did not rule out the possibility of players taking further action.

"We want to be treated equally as the men. This is not just about women's tennis but about women all over the world," she told BBC Sport.

We believe that what we do at the moment is actually fair to the men as well as to the women
All England Club chairman Tim Phillips

"At Wimbledon we would like to have equal prize money to prove that we are equal on all fronts.

"We will keep lobbying on the matter. We don't want to deprive fans from seeing women's tennis but we are willing to be extremely proactive in our stance."

The WTA Tour, which has been long lobbying for equal pay, accused Wimbledon of taking a "Victorian-era view" on the subject.

Chief executive Larry Scott added: "In the 21st century, it is morally indefensible that women competitors in a Grand Slam tournament should be receiving considerably less prize money than their male counterparts."

But All England Club chairman Tim Phillips defended the decision not to award equal pay.

"This issue is one of a judgment on fairness," he said.

"We believe that what we do at the moment is actually fair to the men as well as to the women.

Phillips said because of the physical demands of best-of-five matches, the top men rarely play in Grand Slam doubles events and they earn less overall than women, who often compete in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

"It just doesn't seem right to us that the lady players could play in three events and could take away significantly more than the men's champion who battles away through these best-of-five matches.

"We also would point that the top 10 ladies last year earned more from Wimbledon that the top 10 men did.

"We don't see it as an equal rights issue."

The BBC, who announced recently that major matches at Wimbledon will be shown in high definition as part of its pioneering trial, has also said that the nightly highlights programme on BBC2 will have a new time.

The programme will now start at 2000 BST, immediately following the live action, instead of 2130, and will be repeated before play starts on the following day.

The All England Club has also confirmed that the existing east side of Centre Court will be demolished after the Championships as part of the plan to build a retractable roof.

A new fixed roof will be in place for the 2008 Championships with the retractable roof to be completed the following year.

It also said that new stands would increase the court's capacity from 13,800 to 15,000.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: The All England Club's chief executive Ian Ritchie



SEE ALSO
Wimbledon isolated on equal pay
03 Apr 06 |  Tennis


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