LONDON - Prize money keeps going up at Wimbledon, with first-round losers as well as champions cashing in on record rewards.The All England Club announced Tuesday that prize money for this year's grass-court Grand Slam will increase by 7 per cent to reach a total of 26.75 million pounds ($40.60 million).The men's and women's singles champions will each receive 1.88 million pounds ($2.85 million).Organizers said the prize fund will be "the highest ever in professional tennis," surpassing last year's U.S. Open purse of $38.25 million.In the space of four years, Wimbledon's purse has almost doubled in size from the 14.6 million pounds ($22.4 million) on offer in 2011.The increase has also filtered down to the early stages of the tournament.A first-round loser this year will receive 29,000 pounds ($44,500), a 7 per cent increase from the 27,000 pounds offered last year.Tournament chairman Philip Brook said the prize money helps preserve Wimbledon's premier status and rejected suggestions that the winners are overpaid."I think without the world's best tennis players, we wouldn't have the world's best tennis tournament," Brook said. "We recognize the players are an essential ingredient of our championships and this level of prize money is affordable for these championships and therefore we feel it is important that we should reflect that in what we pay the players."The prize money for the singles winners will rise 7 per cent from the 1.76 million pounds won by last year's champions Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova.Men's and women's doubles winners will earn 340,000 pounds ($520,000), an increase of 15,000 pounds, while mixed doubles winners will receive a rise of 4 per cent to 100,000 pounds ($153,000).Wimbledon will run from June 29 to July 12. The break between the French Open and Wimbledon, normally two weeks, has been extended to three weeks for the first time this year.The All England Club also said Hawk-Eye technology will be used on Courts 12 and 18, making it six courts in total equipped with the line-calling system.Overall capacity has increased by 500 to 39,000 because Courts 14 and 15 will be available again after being re-laid during last year's event. A total of 19 courts will be in play for the championships.Officials said progress is running on schedule for a roof to be built on Court 1, which should be ready for the 2019 competition.All England Club chief executive Richard Lewis dismissed speculation that Wimbledon could sell British television rights to subscription channel Sky and break its long-term association with the BBC."There's absolutely no intention to go down that route whatsoever," Lewis said. "We have a very, very strong relationship with the BBC and we feel it works very well. And we see absolutely no reason to change that."Never say never, but not in the foreseeable future."
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