Wheelchair singles prize up 84% since event first staged at Wimbledon
By Tess de la Mare, PA
Prize money for wheelchair tennis champions at Wimbledon has almost doubled since the singles event was introduced in 2016.
Wimbledon is now the first grand slam to pay the winners of the wheelchair singles more than those knocked out in the first round of the able-bodied event.
The wheelchair singles champions now pocket £46,000, compared to £25,000 in 2016 - a jump of 84%.
Able-bodied players who lose their first match currently take home £45,000.
Wheelchair singles world number four Gordon Reid, 27, has been impressed by the pace of change.
He said: "When I was first here there would have been no media interviews or anything like that."
Reid said players had asked for some improvements to accessibility, but other big changes were being led by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC).
He said: "They're now showing our finals on the hill, broadcasting our matches - none of us have asked for that but that's been provided by the tournament.
"Prize money is increasing quite substantially every year in terms of percentages from where we were at the previous year, and we're a very new part of the event still."
When asked if he would like to see equal pay across all events in the tournament, he said none of the players expect things to change overnight.
Reid added: "This is the first ever wheelchair grand slam where the winner in the wheelchair singles wins more than the first round losers in the able-bodied singles.
"I try not to compare the two too much because it's a very different event, but that's quite nice to see."
Men's wheelchair doubles has been played at Wimbledon since 2005, while the women's doubles event was introduced in 2009.
The top prize for the doubles currently stands at £18,000 per pair.
Four times Wimbledon doubles champion Jordanne Whiley, 27, who is returning to SW19 for the first time since 2017 following the birth of her son, was also impressed with the changes.
Speaking ahead of the first day of the wheelchair matches on Thursday, Whiley said: "I just went down stairs and I thought 'Am I in the wrong place?', it's amazing.
"Everything's so accessible and they've got their disabled area now for the shower and the toilets and everything - it's just so much better and I think they've got plans to improve even more."