Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray said on Wednesday that the prestige of playing and winning Wimbledon outweighs the importance of ranking points. Likening it to The Masters in golf and the FIFA World Cup, Murray tweeted that despite it being devoid of points, “Wimbledon will never be an exhibition and never feel like an exhibition.”
The decision of ATP and WTA – which came in the wake of Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – has started a debate over what it will mean for the main draws at SW19 this year. While the likes of Naomi Osaka have equated it to an exhibition, men’s and women’s World No. 1s Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek have both confirmed their presence at Wimbledon this year.
The all-important Grand Slam
For those like Djokovic, the prospect of getting their hands on the famous gold trophy is more tempting than ranking points. By winning his 21st Major in Melbourne, Rafael Nadal overtook both Djokovic and Roger Federer in the all-time Grand Slam race that has dominated the narrative in men’s tennis over the past several years.
Despite being confirmed to lose his spot as World No.1, Djokovic will arrive in London with the opportunity to either equal Nadal’s tally, or take the lead in the race for the first time, provided he wins the ongoing French Open. If Nadal emerges victorious in Paris in June, Wimbledon becomes even more important for Djokovic to not lose too much ground.
For the younger generation of players, Wimbledon will represent an opportunity to finally win an elusive Major title. Despite becoming mainstays in the top 10 of the world rankings, a Grand Slam trophy has eluded both Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz, who has risen to World No. 6 in the rankings after a remarkable 2022 season, will also fancy his chances at the grass-court Major.
Attractive prize money
Denmark’s Holger Rune and Argentina’s Sebastian Baez have made significant strides on tour this year, winning their first titles at ATP 250 events. Both players spent upwards of six hours across seven days on the clay-courts of Munich and Estoril respectively. But the difference in prize money on offer at Majors, as compared to routine tournaments on tour, is massive. Just going by 2021’s breakup – Wimbledon is likely to offer more prize money this year – Rune and Baez would have earned 88,000 euros by reaching the second round at SW19 last year, as opposed to the 81,310 euros they earned from their recent title wins.
The difference is even greater on the women’s tour. Angelique Kerber and Martina Trevisan earned 26,770 and 31,100 euros for their respective WTA 250 triumphs in Strasbourg and Rabat in May. They would have taken home 56,400 euros just by participating in the Wimbledon main draw last year.