Dylan Alcott raised an important point about prizemoney after his Australian Open final, pointing out the need for dramatic change.
Dylan Alcott has hit out about the lack of prizemoney on offer for wheelchair tennis players ahead of this weekend’s Australian Open finals.
The winners of the men’s and women’s singles trophies at Melbourne Park will each pocket $2.875 million, while the runners-up will receive $1.575 million.
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Semi-finalists leave with $895,000 more in their bank balance while competitors who lost in the first round still scored $103,000.
In comparison, wheelchair players earn far less. Speaking after he lost the quad wheelchair final to Sam Schroder, Alcott — who was named Australian of the Year during the week — said the difference in pay simply isn’t 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.
“We get less than half the first-round loser ($103,000) that the able-bodied get at all slams.
“That’s way better than it was. We used to get a firm handshake and a cold Powerade. So it’s better, but we’ve got to keep building it so it gets better and better.”
Alcott said a shift needs to occur within the sport to look at wheelchair tennis players as deserving the same rights and opportunities as able-bodied stars.
“We have the best Paralympic sport in the world because of the integration with the able-bodied tour. It’s unbelievable. And we do a poor job of leveraging that all year,” he said.
“But people internally sometimes don’t do as good a job to understand how good the product is. Not to say when we go to fight for us more to put us on the main court and not think we’re lucky to be here, because we’re not lucky to be here, we deserve to be here. That’s the difference.
“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.”
Alcott went into retirement after losing the Australian Open final in straight sets to Schroder, and broke down in tears during his post-match press conference upon receiving a message from two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.
“This just sums up how it’s changed,” the Aussie said, looking at his phone.
“I hope he doesn’t mind this but Andy Murray just messaged me: ‘I don’t know if I’ve articulated that well but you’re an absolute rock star and inspiration. Thanks for everything that you’ve done’.
“That kills me. Makes me want to cry. Special. Like you’re just a part of it … they don’t even care you’re in a wheelchair,” he added through tears.
“They don’t give a s**t. Sorry to swear. It’s special. So nice. It’s like that everywhere. I never thought that would happen, like it’s cool. It’s really cool.
“That’s better than winning a tennis tournament. There’s a legend of the sport getting around wheelchair tennis.
“If it’s good enough for someone like that, it’s good enough for everyone. Sorry I didn’t mean to cry.”
Australian Open prizemoney: What do players earn?
Round of 16: $328,000
Round of 32: $221,000
Round of 64: $154,000
Round of 128: $103,000
Round of 16: $65,250
Round of 32: $45,100
Round of 64: $30,050