Tennis world erupts over Andy Murray and Venus Williams news

Andy Murray and Venus Williams, pictured here at the Sony Ericsson Open in 2009.
Andy Murray and Venus Williams at the Sony Ericsson Open in 2009. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for Sony Ericsson)

Wimbledon has delighted tennis fans after announcing that former champions Andy Murray and Venus Williams have been handed wildcard entries into the grass-court grand slam.

Murray, 34, and Williams, 40, fell outside the ranking cut-off for automatic qualification into Wimbledon.

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But with seven All England titles between them, organisers used their discretion to hand the veteran stars wildcards.

Two-time winner Murray, who played just his third ATP singles match of the year at Queen's Club on Tuesday, is currently ranked 124.

Murray will be joined by fellow British players Katie Boulter, Jodie Burrage, Harriet Dart, Samantha Murray Sharan, Francesca Jones, Liam Broady, Jay Clarke and 19-year-old Jack Draper - who won his maiden ATP Tour match at Queen's on Monday.

Five-time champion Venus Williams (ranked 103rd) and Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz have also been given wildcards into the main draw.

The news about Murray and Williams left tennis fans delighted over the chance to see them in action again at Wimbledon - possibly for the last time.

Wimbledon organisers announce decrease in prize-money

This year's tournament begins on June 28, with prize-money a little over $64 million - a 5.2 per cent reduction from 2019 when the grass-court grand slam was last held.

Last year's competition was called off because of COVID-19.

The singles champions will bear the maximum hit to their earnings and will pocket $3.12m, down from the $4.32m they were paid in 2019.

"As in previous years, and particularly in this challenging year for tour players, the focus of distribution has been on supporting players in the early rounds of the tournament," organisers All England Club said in a statement.

"Only four players (finalists and semi-finalists) in each singles draw will receive prize-money at a lower level than was awarded in 2019."

Andy Murray and Venus Williams, pictured here at Wimbledon.
Andy Murray has won two Wimbledon titles, while Venus Williams has five. Image: Getty

Players participating in the qualifiers will see a 17.5 per cent increase in overall prize-money allocation, while the wheelchair and quad wheelchair events will also get a 17 per cent boost.

Meanwhile, CEO Sally Bolton says the All England Club is expecting Naomi Osaka to compete in the tournament.

"We've reached out to her team, we haven't spoken to Naomi herself," said Bolton.

"At this point in time she's entered into the Championships and we haven't received confirmation that she won't compete."

Tournament director Jamie Baker added: "I had the conversation with her team. It's absolutely clear that we're here, we're completely open for any discussions when they want to have that.

"Hopefully it goes without saying that we want the best players competing here no matter what.

"We treat every single player with a tremendous amount of care. That's one of the main reasons for me and my role. We've been building those relationships so there's a constant, ongoing dialogue and we will just continue to behave in this way."

Osaka pulled out of the French Open citing mental stress after initially copping criticism for refusing to attend press conferences.

with AAP

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