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Last Updated: Monday, 23 June, 2003, 02:33 GMT 03:33 UK
Wimbledon faces 2004 boycott
Wimbledon
Wimbledon has not faced a boycott since 1973
Next year's Wimbledon Championships could face a boycott as male players demand more money from the four Grand Slam events.

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the governing body of the men's game, wants up to 30% of revenue from the four major tournaments to help fund the tour.

And around 100 players met at the All England Club on Saturday to hear a proposal to stage rival tournaments during the Australian, French and US Opens, and Wimbledon in 2004.

ATP chief executive officer Mark Miles said: "We have players who want to create alternative events to run against the Grand Slams.

"If we ever got to the point where the players became convinced that the Grand Slams are simply not willing to deal, from our perspective, reasonably with the players' concerns, we would be prepared to make other plans.

We feel we have been rewarding our players pretty generously over the years
All England Club chief Chris Gorringe

"Our preference is for patient cooperation and discussion."

And Todd Martin, president of the ATP's player council, admitted Wimbledon officials have yet to be convinced.

"No one wants to miss any events but we will take action," Martin told The Guardian.

"Initially, the Wimbledon reaction was defensive in the true sense of the word. They have told us what they do with the money.

"We are continuing the dialogue to find a consensus with the Grand Slams individually."

This year over 4.5m of Wimbledon's total prize money will go towards the men's singles and doubles events.

Chris Gorringe, Chief Executive of the All England Club says if more cash was ploughed into the prize money pot then other areas would miss out.

"All the profits from grand slams are reinvested into the grass roots," Gorringe told BBC Radio Five Live.

"Players are comparing what they receive from grand slams with what they see from major team sports in the United States.

"It is a different comparison. We need more communications to be carried out to explain what we do with our money.

"We feel we have been rewarding our players pretty generously over the years.

"It is a disappointing way to start the championships."

The chairman of the All England Club Tim Phillips echoed Gorringe's views, stressing that any funds that Wimbledon raised went a long way to developing the sport across the world.

"The four Grand Slams have so far invested $22m in to the grass roots in the developing world, including other international professional tennis events," said Phillips.

The last time Wimbledon suffered a boycott was in 1973, when the exclusion of Yugoslavian Nikki Pilic led to 13 of the 16 men's seeds withdrawing.



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23 Jun 03  |  Wimbledon 2003

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