Andy Murray facing wildcard deadline at new-look Wimbledon

Two-time winner has until June 18th to request a place as prize money increased to £38m

A general view inside the Wimbledon number one court with the new fixed and retractable roof. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

A general view inside the Wimbledon number one court with the new fixed and retractable roof. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

 

Andy Murray, still moving cautiously in his comeback from hip surgery, has until June 18th to ask for a wild card to play at Wimbledon this summer.

The All England Club reminded the two-time champion on Tuesday that, officially, he has until that cut-off date – when its sub-committee decides who to invite outside the seeds, ranked players and those who come through qualifying – to let it know his intentions. However, it is likely it will give Murray – ranked 218 in the world – a day or two of wriggle room if he were still in two minds, as he sometimes is.

Murray, who turns 32 next month, has not played since losing in five sets to Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round of the Australian Open and has not competed at Wimbledon since 2017, when he lost to Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals.

“It’s entirely up to Andy,” the club’s chief executive, Richard Lewis, said. “It’s in his gift what to do. But if he came forward with a strong case, I’m sure we’d work with him.”

There will be no such largesse afforded Justin Gimelstob, the 42-year-old American pundit and former player who pleaded no contest to assault in a Los Angeles Court last week and is serving 60 hours of community service, alongside three years of probation and anger management sessions.

Gimelstob, who reached the mixed doubles semi-finals here with Venus Williams in 1998, had a middling career that opened many doors in his post-playing days, some of which are now slamming in his face. He is struggling to hold his place on the influential ATP player council – which voted in March to end the five-year contract of the chief executive, Chris Kermode – and he will not be welcome at Wimbledon.

Gimelstob has already been banned from the Royal Box and from competing in any legends events. Lewis said, “We’ve made our position pretty clear. Any application for a [media or coaching] credential would have to be dealt with when it comes through. We’ve received no application.”

He added that the club have not discussed possible restraint-of-trade legal action by Gimelstob, who has coached John Isner. “That’s very hypothetical,” he said.

More concrete, in every way, is the expansion of works on the site, most dramatically the new roof on No 1 Court – and it is every bit as impressive as the one covering Centre Court.

As the outgoing chairman, Philip Brook, observed before a media tour of the court, “It [the redevelopment] has come in on time and on budget, and will accommodate 12,345 spectators, with 15 hospitality suites.”

It took 11 cranes, the largest in Europe, each weighing 100 tons, to install the roof, which will be tested in public on May 15th, at a combined tennis and music charity event, showcasing the disparate talents of John McEnroe and Faith Paloma among others.

Prize money continues to rise – and this year again targets players outside the elite. The total pot is £38m, an increase of 11.8 per cent. The singles champions will each receive £2.35m, up from £2.25m – but it is on the outer edges where the increases will be most welcome.

First-round losers will receive £45,000, and Brook pointed out, “Since 2011, first-round prize money has increased almost fourfold, from £11,500.” The doubles cash goes up by 14.2 per cent, and the mixed doubles by 6.2 per cent.

Wheelchair events will receive 47 per cent more money and, Brook added, “There is new prize money for the quad wheelchair events that have been added.”

So, all would seem to be sunny and rosy in the Wimbledon garden again, with expectations as high as ever – if not for British success on the court.

Reminded that last year was the first since 2007 that a British player had not figured in the second week of the tournament, Brook responded, “These championships have enduring appeal, bringing together the best players in the world. There have been many years in the past when British strength has not been high, but the championships are always very successful. The more British players there are and the longer they are in the tournament, is obviously a big plus for the championships.” – Guardian

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