By Matt Hill
After a year dominated by Serena Williams on the women’s side and the men’s game having four different grand slam winners, most of the off-season professional tennis talk has been about issues away from the court.
The biggest issue the players have been dealing with has been a possible ban — by the ATP — of the grand slam events. Fortunately, tournaments like the Australian Open listened.
The first grand slam of 2013 that begins in three weeks in Melbourne has raised its prize money by about $4 million, with the money mostly going to players who lose in the early rounds.
First-round losers will now earn $29,000 American dollars, a 32.7 increase from 2012. Those defeated in the second round will take home $45,500, up 36.6 percent from last year’s tournament.
The ATP more than the WTA took the lead on the prize money issue, and they have at least averted a boycott of this great grand slam tournament.
In a question and answer twitter session with ATP tennis player Ryan Harrison this week, he told me that the Australian Open was “Getting Better” in dishing out the prize money to lower ranked players.
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal do just fine financially, but players like Harrison and a lot of the others on the ATP Tour that are hovering down on the lower end of the top 100 have expenses to take care of — and they don’t have the luxurious life of the top players.
As I was watching the Australian Open wild-card playoff a couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about how these players are struggling to make ends meet, just like a lot of people in Carter and Johnson Counties.