Article: Wimbledon to use HawkEye; winners' pay increased
WIMBLEDON, England -- The total prize money purse at this year's Wimbledon championships will make it the most lucrative tennis tournament ever, the All England Club announced on Tuesday.
Both men's and women's singles champions will receive $1.4 million and the overall purse will increase 8.7 percent over the 2006 total.
The men's champion's check has increased by 6.9 percent while the women's has risen by 12 percent after Wimbledon decided in February to offer equal prize money.
Because of the tournament's decision to come into line with the other three Grand Slams and offer equal prize money, the overall women's singles prize fund has shot up by 19.8 percent.
"No tennis tournament has ever offered higher prize money than Wimbledon in 2007," Tim Phillips, chairman of the All England Club said. "We want to reward the players appropriately for the talent, entertainment and drama they bring to the grass courts of Wimbledon."
Organizers also announced that the tournament will implement the HawkEye instant replay system on Centre Court and Court One. The high-speed multi-camera technology which tracks the trajectory of a moving ball was first used at a Grand Slam in 2005 at the U.S. Open and has also been used at the Australian Open.
Ian Ritchie, the chief executive of the All England Club, told reporters organizers would test the system on grass courts in May in advance of the touurnament, which has in the past used the Cyclops system.
"We will not use Cyclops on those two courts because we feel to have conflicting technologies in use at the same time would be inappropriate. We will re-deploy Cyclops on other courts," Ritchie said.
Ritchie said they were still to decide how many challenges players would be allowed at the two-week championships which begin on June 25, saying they could get more than they do elsewhere.
"There are slightly different circumstances on a grass court and there are things we are discussing before we decide the protocol we are going to adopt," he said.
"It's unlikely that they'll be unlimited challenges, but maybe we are looking to extend the limit. We want to extend the continuity of what has worked well at the American and Australian Opens but we're looking at alternatives as well."
While HawkEye, which has been widely used in cricket, has been generally well received by players, there have been some dissenting voices.
World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, runner-up at Wimbledon last year, blamed his defeat at this year's Dubai Open by Mikhail Youzhny on the system after a crucial point was overturned in favor of his Russian opponent.
Roger Federer, the world No. 1 and Wimbledon champion for the past four years, has also gone on record saying he is against the technology being used.
Plans were also unveiled on Tuesday to build a new 4,000-seat Court Two, to be completed by the 2009 championships. A 2,000-seat Court Three is also in the pipeline, although no fixed completion date was given.
Court Two, which still allows some fans to stand on terraces, has become known as the "graveyard of champions" after a string of upsets over the years.
Building work will begin on the new Court Two immediately after this year's championships, which conclude on July 8.
The three-year project to upgrade Centre Court and install a retractable roof is on schedule to be ready for the 2009 tournament, according to the All England Club.
Spectators attending this year's tournament will be exposed to the elements, however, as the existing roof has been demolished as modernization of the traditional venue continues.
When work is completed in 2009 the capacity of Centre Court will have increased from 13,800 to 15,000.
The retractable roof will allow play to continue on Centre Court and minimize Wimbledon's infamous rain delays. It will cover the court in 10 minutes, although there would still be a 30-minute wait while the air management system creates perfect playing conditions.
"We want this to be the premier tennis tournament in the world, that's why we are doing so much work on Centre Court," Phillips told reporters.
"But we still want to retain the image of a tennis tournament in the garden and don't want the place to be full of concrete."