Few sporting events have the history and prestige of Wimbledon. While most do everything possible to keep up with the times, tennis' third major of the season is like taking a trip back to a simpler era. The most obvious example is the all-white garb.
One thing that has changed over the years at the All England Club is the prize money. Every player who qualifies for the main draw is rewarded with a handsome payday, even if they are knocked out in the first round. The winners both receive upwards of £1.7 million.
Although winning Wimbledon is incentive enough to bring the best out of everybody, the large purse certainly doesn't hurt. Let's check out the breakdown of the prize money for this year's tournament, which is up nearly 12 percent over the 2013 total for singles competitors.
2014 Wimbledon Prize Money
|Result||Total (£)||Increase (%)|
|4th Round Losers||117,000||11.4|
|3rd Round Losers||71,000||12.7|
|2nd Round Losers||43,000||13.2|
|1st Round Losers||27,000||14.9|
Wimbledon.com; Men's and Women's Singles
Most of the focus during the tournament is on the big names. The top players in both draws who are capable of winning the title. Yet, when it comes to the prize money, those who get knocked out early are the ones who usually need the payout to help finance their season.
Wimbledon chairman Philip Brook said that was the reason the increases were higher for those who suffer early exit. The Associated Press (via USA Today) passed along comments from Brook about the decision to raise the purse:
We've placed emphasis on the large group of players who need our help the most, those players who lose in qualifying and in the early rounds of the championships. We also had an eye to being competitive internationally, and we do keep our watch on what is going on in other tennis events and in particular the other Grand Slams.
The plan works out well. The top finishers still get a very nice reward for their deep runs, but those who need the extra help get it.
On the men's side, the story remains much the same for another year. The "Big Four" of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and defending champion Andy Murray are a step above the rest. It would take an extraordinary effort for anybody else to capture the Wimbledon title.
Federer is an interesting case. Once unstoppable on the grass courts of the All England Club, the fan favorite has just one major title over the past four years. With each passing major without a title, questions grow about whether he can win another one.
Wimbledon represents a good chance to silence the doubters. He's won the tournament seven times, he is coming off a title in the Halle warm-up event and also faces a pretty favorable road.
Courtney Nguyen of SI.com listed him as one of the winners of the draw:
The seven-time champion is in Rafael Nadal's half, but the seeds in his quarter shouldn't trouble him. No. 5 seed Stan Wawrinka hasn't reached the third round at Wimbledon since 2009 and lost in the first round the last two years.
Last year's surprise semifinalist, Jerzy Janowicz, the No. 15 seed this year, has struggled mightily over the last 12 months, and he hasn't won three matches in a single tournament this season. John Isner, seeded ninth, has never made it past the second round at Wimbledon, despite his big serve.
She went on to note a second-round clash with either Gilles Muller or Julien Benneteau could pose the biggest challenge until the late rounds.
Other players to watch include Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka, rising stars Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov as well as the always exciting Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
As for the women's side, there won't be a repeat winner. Marion Bartoli retired shortly after winning the Wimbledon crown last year in a surprisingly swift exit from the sport.
A lot depends on the form of favorite Serena Williams.
When she's at her absolute best there isn't anybody on the WTA Tour capable of beating her at a major. Yet, she's failed to play at that level in the season's first two majors with eliminations in the fourth round of the Australian Open and the second round of the French Open.
Which French Open champ is more likely to make it two straight majors?
That said, expect to see a supremely motivated Williams at the All England Club. She had similar results in the first two Grand Slam events of 2012 before proceeding to win both Wimbledon and the US Open to close out the major schedule. She could very well replicate that performance.
Above all else, Wimbledon should be an entertaining couple of weeks, in large part due to the unique atmosphere that surrounds the tournament.