The ATP has taken the decision to upgrade the Wimbledon precursor events Queen’s Club and Halle tournaments to 500 level events, a decision which will provide a significant boost to grass court tennis on the tour.
Along with Queen’s Club, the Gary Weber Open in Halle, Germany is also due to be promoted from the Tour 250 tier and will be rescheduled to take place two weeks after Roland Garros starting from 2015. The upgrade lengthens the grass court season with a tournament in Eastbourne and Birmingham set to become the new warm-up for Wimbledon.
This is expected to have significant impact on the tournaments and players, as the prize money from both events is set to rise approximately $30 million, which is $18.6 million up from the current prize money of $17 million. Tour 500 events represent the second tier of regular ATP tournaments. They follow Masters 1000 events, which are one level below a Grand Slam.
These new additions will join (in order) Rotterdam, Dubai, Rio de Janeiro, Acapulco, Barcelona, Hamburg, Washington, Tokyo, Beijing, Valencia and Basel as World Tour 500 events.
“The Aegon Championships has always been a world-class event and this move further strengthens the status of the tournament with increased ranking points and prize money at an exciting time for grass-court tennis, with The Championships, Wimbledon expanding the season in 2015.” said Queen’s tournament director Chris Kermode
ATP also stated that prize money for all secon-level 500 tennis tournaments will go up by an average of 10 percent in each of the next five years.