Once again, Wimbledon seemed to completely take over the country. Expectation shot through the roof as productivity hit the floor, and didn't Andy Murray do well?
One of the talking points this year, especially in the first week, was the increase in prize money. The large increase in the money pot has been praised for the impact it will have on emerging tennis players, and the fringe players, who might struggle to support themselves throughout the year. After a few days of hearing how good this would be for the development of the sport, I decided to do some investigating.
I was surprised by what I found. While Andy Murray and Marion Bartoli raked in a massive £1.6million for their championship victories, the winners of the Wimbledon wheelchair tennis competitions got a relatively measly £8,500... to share between two of them.
Thanks to a prize money increase of 62%, this year's first round losers, in the singles competition, were awarded with £23,500 each. That's almost three times as much as the wheelchair tennis Champions' prize. I can see no way to justify a situation where first round losers can earn more prize money then someone who finishes the fortnight as Wimbledon Champion.
I am fully aware that wheelchair tennis attracts far less attention, both in terms of audience and sponsorship. Surely, however, to offer so much less is nothing short of an insult to wheelchair athletes. Is the achievement of an able-bodied Wimbledon champion really 18823 times more impressive than the achievement of the wheelchair champions? Because that's what the prize money would suggest.
If only a tiny percentage of the prize money distributed to the singles competitors was redirected towards the wheelchair tennis competition, it would surely have a massive impact on the sustainability of being a wheelchair tennis player and the singles competitors would barely notice the difference.
The legacy of the London Paralympic Games was supposed to be that people realised how competitors with disabilities could be fantastic athletes, who create as exciting a spectacle as able-bodied athletes. The reality is, however, that if competitions like Wimbledon are unwilling to invest money in athletes with disabilities, then their sports are not going to progress.
We've already seen a disappointing number of Paralympic athletes retire primarily because they could not support themselves financially. If the difference in prize money, seen in the Wimbledon competition, is reflective across other disability sports, is this really a surprise?
We, and the organisers of events like Wimbledon, need to ask ourselves if we think that this prize money gulf is ok. Back in 2007 the organisers of Wimbledon decided that it was right to award women equal prize money. They decided it was wrong to pay someone less because of their gender. In the same vain as this question, is it right to pay someone less because they use a wheelchair?
*A full breakdown of how prize money was distributed can be found on the Wimbledon website