The Australian Open is coming to a close, with the final rounds being played out this week. If you’re not a tennis fan, you’re almost certainly more aware of this year’s event than any other, given the opening started with the great Australian tradition of imprisoning an international celebrity. Djokovic never made it to the court, however he’s been set free to return to his home country of Serbia. The same cannot be said of the refugees who he shared his accommodation with.
With that little bit of unpleasantness behind us, we’ve been able to enjoy nine great days of tennis, with Olympic champion and world number one Ash Barty moving into the quarterfinals after a tense encounter with Amanda Anisimova in the previous round who was responsible for knocking out Naomi Osaka. Dylan Alcott has also made an impressive start with a three set win over Dutch rival Niels Vink in the wheelchair singles.
As the grand slam prizes edge ever closer for our athletes, we take a look at exactly what’s at stake here, beyond the silverware and the international glory. That’s right, it’s the thing we’re all really here for: cold hard cash.
The Australian Open, like all grand slams, offers some eye watering dollar for a win on top of qualification prizes through the rounds. There’s a total of $75 million being dished out in cash prizes this year, with an additional $4.5 million added to the pool after last year’s COVID dip. This top up sees the Australian Open maintaining its status as the largest prize pool of the big four competitions.
This is exactly how much each of the competitors stand to win in 2022.
Men’s and Women’s Singles Prize Money
The prize money this year for a win in the singles — both men’s and women’s — is a whopping $2.875 million. This is up from 2021’s top prize of $2.75 million.
Runner ups will receive $1.575 million, an increase of $75,000 on last year.
Semi-finalists will get $895,000, quarter-finalists $538,500, fourth round finishers $328,000, third round winner $221,000, second round winner $154,000, and first round winners $103,000.
Those who qualify for the first second and third rounds also receive between $53500 and $25,250.
Unlike many other sports, tennis is a rare example where equality across the genders has long been seen in prize money wins. However, this wasn’t always the case.
The US Open was the first major tournament to offer the same cash prize for a women’s win as a men’s. In 1972, women’s champion Billie Jean King was awarded just US $10,000 for her victory, compared to $25,000 for the same achievement for her male counterpart. King threatened a boycott of the tournament, resulting in equal prize money for both genders the following year.
While the Australian open did offer equal prize money during the mid 80s and early 90s, that declined in the following years. It wasn’t until 2001 that Tennis Australia officially committed to equal prizes for men and women.
That’s at least a little better than the French Open, who didn’t do the same until 2006. Wimbledon was the last to join the big four, with a bit of a nudge from Venus Williams, finally offering equal prize money in 2007.
Doubles Prize Money
Prize money for a doubles win has historically always been much lower than for a singles. This is partially down to the drawing power of doubles not being as commercially viable for sponsors and audience as well as the industry push to keep singles show downs as the pinnacle of the game.
As such, the winners of the men’s and women’s doubles will share a prize of $675,000. Runners up will get $360,000 while semi-finalists see $205,000 and quarter-finalists $113,000.
Third round winners get $65,250, second round $45,100, and first round $30,050.
Winners in the doubles will get a total of $200,000 extra this year, however those who finish earlier will get less than they would have last year.
For the mixed doubles, it’s a similar story. Although the prizes are much smaller overall, winners will net an additional $40,000 over last years prize money.
Mixed doubles winners will split a $150,000 prize, with the runners up sharing $85,000. Semi-finalists will get $45,00 while quarter-finalists get $24,000. Second round players see $12,000 while first rounders get $6,250.
Wheelchair Prize Money
The figures for the wheelchair grand slam don’t appear to have been released this year. Never fear though, as The Latch has gone to the source to get the figures from Tennis Australia.
The figures are the same for the men’s, the women’s, and the Quad Wheelchair draws.
For the singles, winners can expect $69,057, while runner-ups get $24,530. Semi-finalists receive $25,895 and quarter-finalists $18,700.
In the doubles, each pair receive $25,895 for a win, $11,510 for a second place finish, and $10,070 for a semi-final place.
The total prize money pool for all wheelchair events is $863,166. By comparison, that total is slightly less than the amount one semi-finalist will receive in the able-bodies singles.
Quad runner-up and newly minted Australian of the Year, Dylan Alcott, has recently hit out at the Open, saying that the difference in prize money is just not good enough.
“I won the lead-in tournament here and it was like $1300,” he said. “How much is a flight from Europe, $3000? It’s not just Australia, it’s all around the world. We don’t get $3.5 million for winning.
“People think we’re lucky to be here — get stuffed. We deserve to be here. We’re selling tickets, sponsors are making money, and people are loving it. So, start thinking like that and then it will all change. That’s what I was lucky enough to do.”