The French Open has underlined its commitment to tennis with the announcement of increased prize money for players, including wheelchair tennis players.
Competitors at Roland Garros 2016 will receive $47 million in total prize money, a 14 per cent increase of $3.7 million. The singles winners will each receive $3 million, a rise of 6.4 per cent.
One competition the public may not see, or know about, is the wheelchair tennis event. The men and women’s wheelchair tennis singles winners will take home $53,955 in prize money, an increase of $10,791.
The wheelchair tennis tour consists of more than 140 tournaments in over 40 countries, covering all parts of the world. Total prize money for the tour is estimated at $2 million.
World number one quads tennis player Dylan Alcott, recognises this is a problem and said the exposure of wheelchair tennis is key to fixing this issue.
“The prize money in all Grand Slams is a big discrepancy,” Alcott said.
“When I won the Australian Open I got about one third of what a first round loser got in the able bodied.
“There is definitely room for improvement, and I think if more and more people get around it the awareness is better. The more tournaments that are in conjunction with ATP and WTA, it is going to get better.”
Keegan Oh-Chee, world number 52 in wheelchair tennis, said there is more behind the issue than just the lack of prize money.
“I think the big difference is due to the lack of exposure that wheelchair tennis has,” he said.
“The reason there is so much prize money and sponsorship opportunities for the ATP and WTA is due to the big money in television deals.
“I think the real unfair part is not in the prize money, but in the funding that national associates give to their tennis and wheelchair tennis players.”