The Australian Open boosted prize money for the 2013 edition to A$30 million ($31.1 million), a record for a tennis tournament.
The fund is A$4 million more than this year’s, the biggest single increase for any tennis tournament, Melbourne-based Tennis Australia said today in a news release.
“We’ve led the world in prize money for these incredible athletes and we want to ensure that the Australian Open continues to make a major contribution to the financial well-being of professional tennis players,” Tennis Australia Chief Executive Officer Steve Wood said in the statement.
The Association of Tennis Professionals last month denied it was organizing a boycott of the Australian Open, the first of four annual Grand Slam tournaments, as part of a push by male players to get a bigger slice of revenue at major championships.
Tennis Australia said today that its CEO will “seek further input from the playing group regarding a more equitable distribution of prize money to help ensure financial viability for lower-ranked players.”
In 2012, the Australian Open increased prize money for first-round losers by 4 percent to A$20,800. The French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open raised payments to those players by 20 percent, 26 percent and 21 percent from the previous year to about $23,000 each, around $1,500 more than the Australian Open at current exchange rates.
By contrast, prize money for the men’s and women’s singles champions at the four majors rose by 4.7 percent on average this year from 2011.
“We welcome the increase in prize money for the 2013 Australian Open and acknowledge the ongoing efforts of Tennis Australia to recognize the role of the players in the success of the tournament,” the ATP said in a statement. “We also look forward with confidence to continuing these successful discussions with a view to a longer-term understanding.”
The Australian Open’s $31.1 million fund compares with $25.5 million at the U.S. Open, $26 million at Wimbledon and $24.1 million at the French Open this year.
The women’s WTA Tour said in a statement it applauded “Tennis Australia’s commitment to equal prize money.”
The Australian Open is scheduled for Jan. 14-27 in Melbourne.