Judy Murray has stepped into the debate over the disparity in winnings after it was revealed her son Jamie and mixed doubles partner Martina Hingis earned a relatively modest £100,000 to share when lifting the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon.
In comparison with riches elsewhere, this sum has been viewed as on the low side. Roger Federer, for example, picked up a cool £2.2 million for lifting the men’s singles title.
The vast difference was placed under further scrutiny when Jamie confirmed he won the same sum when lifting the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon ten years earlier. “So it’s actually less valuable than ten years ago,” he tweeted last week. The All England Club claimed prize money will be “reviewed” ahead of next year’s tournament.
“It is probably something that needs to be looked at,” said Judy yesterday. “I was really surprised when Jamie pointed out he got the same winner’s cheque for winning in 2017 as he did in 2007.
“I didn’t realise that. I think doubles is often under-appreciated, in terms of how many people want to watch it. You can see that in the Davis Cup, you can see that at the O2, you can see it at Wimbledon.
“The bedrock of our club game and our school game is nearly always doubles. So, people identify often more with what they see in doubles than in singles.
“They appreciate what they see in singles, but it’s probably a case of ‘that’s not something I do, but I enjoy watching it’. But it’s underestimated how popular the doubles is, and it’s not covered anywhere near enough on television.
“There are more sites streaming it, so if you know where to find it you can find it. But it’s that whole thing of ‘if you see it, you can be it’. There is quite a lot of tennis coverage on the TV now, but it is virtually all singles, and doubles is a whole different kind of mastery.
“I hope they do look at it (the prize money issue),” she added. “You can see from the amount of fan or crowd engagement, in terms of people watching the doubles at the slams, that people want it. So the players should be rewarded better in that discipline.”
Judy was speaking at Perth tennis club, where she was encouraging youngsters to hone their racket skills as well as encourage entry to a competition to win a place partnering Andy Murray in a doubles match. Not only this, but the opposition on the other side of the net at the Andy Murray Live charity event at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow in November will be Judy and Jamie.
To qualify, entrants must play keepie-up with a tennis ball and racket (or anything else they can think of) for ten seconds. Judy is relishing the chance to do the judging herself for once. A willing competitor on BBC 1’s Strictly Come Dancing, she often had to suffer the cruel barbs from Craig Revel Horwood and co. This should prove a less nerve- wracking ordeal.
“I’d love to be involved in judging it. I love all that stuff,” she said.
The Andy Murray Live event – which was staged for the first time last year – is a wonderful vehicle to satisfy the cravings of Scots to watch live tennis, particularly this year, with Federer the star attraction other than the Murray brothers – and Judy of course.
A big name has also already been booked for next year – likely to be either Rafa Nadal or Novak Djokovic, Andy’s other so-called “big four” rivals.
But Judy wishes a country that has delivered another Wimbledon champion this year could be rewarded with an annual tennis competition featuring the biggest names on the circuit.
The absence of one is regrettable – but not as regrettable as the lack of a suitable facility to host such an event. The planning application for a 12-court tennis centre near Dunblane is still wrapped up in red tape, much to her frustration.
“Yes, you could just build some facilities, that would be nice,” she said.
“It’s exactly why this is important to bring something to Scotland on an annual basis that has not just Andy but whoever he plays against,” added Judy, with reference to Andy Murray Live.
“This year we have Roger coming, as you know, which is huge. We have a huge name for next year as well – I can’t say who it is.
“This is why it is important to share and put world-class tennis in front of Scottish people because we do not have any other major events, unless we have Davis Cup ties.
“We were fortunate with the Davis Cup because Great Britain had several home ties in a row, which was almost unheard of – maybe six or seven and several came to Glasgow, which was fantastic. It let everyone see the appetite for it.”
Judy confirmed Andy would be fit to be appear at his own event although he is currently “assessing his options” after battling a hip injury on the way to being knocked out of Wimbledon in the quarter-final.