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In 2021, the tennis world will have to tighten its belt (again)

Even if the overall endowments of the Australian Open will be identical to those of 2020, the future winners of the first major meeting of the season, will receive 33% less than last season.

As obvious. The interminable Covid-19 pandemic is particularly restrictive for professional tennis. Since the resumption of the men’s and women’s circuits last August after a forced five-month break, tournaments (when they take place) are mostly played without the presence of the public or with a handful of spectators, which amounts to a huge shortfall for the organizers. Thanks to their imposing TV rights (between 40 to 70% of their revenues) the Grand Slams, for their part, limit the damage and still offer generous endowments. But the hour is on the decline.

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The prize money of the Australian Open, unveiled Thursday, remains identical to that of 2020 ($ 71.5 million, € 58 million), but the winners of the men’s and women’s tables of the 2021 edition will still glean 33% less than Novak Djokovic and Sofia Kenin, title holders. It goes from $ 4,120,000 to $ 2,750,000 for the future winners. On the other hand, players eliminated from the outset will have increased endowments. For a loss in the first round, each player will receive 100,000 Australian dollars, an increase of 15% compared to last year.

During the last Roland-Garros, the sails were smaller. “The prize money (38M €) corresponds to 90% of what we had distributed in 2019, had confided to the Figaro the president of the FFT Bernard Guidicelli. It has been increased by 30% for the first rounds and 27% for all of the qualifications in order to help these players who particularly suffer from having been deprived of the game for 5 months. It is our role as a major tournament to allow all the populations of the tournament (coaches, referees, physiotherapists, etc.) to live and continue their profession. ”

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The endowment of the US Open 2020, played behind closed doors, was also down, but by only 5%, to a total of 53.4 million dollars in 2020, against 57 million a year earlier. And as in Paris and Melbourne, the bonus was lower for the two singles winners but the drop less spectacular. In 2019, Nadal and Andrescu had received 3.5 million euros. In 2019, Thiem and Osaka still won a nice check for € 2.5 million.

The ATP Cup prizes in free fall

The Grand Slams, the lungs of the tennis economy, are holding up well, but for the rest of the circuit it is time for much more drastic savings. The ATP Cup is a good example. Contested from 1er on February 5 before the Australian Open (February 8-21), this team competition considerably lightened its formula (12 teams instead of 24, 5 days of competition instead of 15) and its prize money. In 2020, in the first edition, it amounted to the impressive sum of 15 million dollars. It will be halved, and could even undergo a further reduction of around 40%, depending on the yet unknown spectator gauge …
As a reminder, the last Parisian Masters 1000, the Rolex Paris Masters, deprived of spectators, had to considerably lower its prize money. Novak Djokovic had pocketed nearly 1 million euros in 2019. Medvedev, winner at the beginning of November obtained “only” 300,000 euros. A decrease of… 70%! And the winner of the last London Masters (Medvedev again) gleaned $ 1.1 million against € 2.1 million for Tsitispas in 2019 … It is obvious, as long as the public does not return, the circuit will have to to tighten one’s belt. Despite a shaken start to the season and an Australian Open which starts three weeks later than usual, due to the quarantine imposed by the Australian authorities, the vast majority of tournaments have however retained their place in the calendar of the three first months of competition. A very positive sign despite the ambient gloom.


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