By Alexandra Willis
5 October 2010
Tennis Australia threw down the gauntlet to the Grand Slam nations as it announced a series of attention-grabbing changes to the 2011 Australian Open, the first Major tennis tournament of the calendar year. Launched under the slogan “a whole new level,” top of the list was the offer of a record 24.2 million US dollars in prize money, the largest prize money pool in the event’s 105-year history.
Outstripping Wimbledon’s $21.7 million, the French Open’s $22.1 million, and the US Open’s $22.6 million, Tournament Director Craig Tiley pledged to reward competitors with what they deserve for their efforts. The men’s and women’s singles champions will take home $2.2 million, with the runners-up receiving $1.1 million.
In the same breath, organisers also announced the first stages of a $363 million redevelopment of the Melbourne Park site, to ensure that the Australian Open continues to stave off competition from other cities and nations looking to swipe the Asia Pacific Grand Slam. “The redevelopment of Melbourne Park is the most significant happening for the Australian Open in a generation,” said Tennis Australia CEO Steve Wood. “The benefits for both the Australian Open and the sport of tennis will be phenomenal.”
Confirming new and existing sponsors and partners for 2011, the tournament will present a series of on-site attractions for fans, including a nationwide tour of the Australian Open trophies, the chance to “walk on water”, the return of the tennis short film festival, a star-studded legends event featuring the likes of Pat Rafter, Mats Wilander and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and finally, a new Kids’ Day to be held on the Saturday before the tournament, emulating the US Open’s Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day.
The Australian Open 2011 will take place at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, from 17 to 30 January.
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