Andy Murray, who took the first steps of his comeback by defeating Benoît Paire at Queen’s Club to reach the second round, has been announced as one of the first recipients of a Wimbledon wildcard.
The two-time champion, who only played his third ATP game of the year in London on Tuesday, is ranked at 124, outside the cut-off for direct qualification.
Murray’s last appearance in singles at the All England Club was in 2017, when his hip problems first surfaced, although he played in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles two years ago.
Murray will be joined by other 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 first ATP Tour game at Queen’s on Monday.
Five-time champion Venus Williams and Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz also received wildcards on the main draw.
Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton said that as things stand, the All England Club expects Naomi Osaka to participate in the tournament which begins on June 28. Bolton said: “We have contacted her team, we have not spoken to Naomi herself. Right now she has entered the Championships and we have not received confirmation that she will not compete. “
Osaka has taken time away from court since she retired from the French Open for mental health reasons amid the furor over her refusal to fulfill media duties.
Tournament Director Jamie Baker added: “I had the conversation with his team. It is absolutely clear that we are here, we are completely open to any discussion when they wish. Hopefully it goes without saying that we want the best players to compete here, whatever. what happens.
“We treat every single player with enormous care. This is one of the main reasons for me and my role. We have built these relationships, so there is a constant and continuous dialogue and we will continue to behave in this way. “
It was announced on Monday that Wimbledon would be a pilot event as part of the third phase of the government events research program, allowing for a 50% crowd from the start of the event. The first week will see a 50% capacity limit for Center Court and Court One with the smaller performing courts at 75%. The organizers aim to have greater capacity on the two main fields for the fourth round and quarter-finals, with full capacity for the semi-finals and finals.
Tickets will be on sale online starting at 1pm on Thursday and will be released in multiple lots. Ticket holders must show proof of full vaccination, a negative test, or natural immunity for having the coronavirus. There will certainly be great demand and ticket sales for the other events on the grass pitch have been marred by technological problems, but Bolton said: “We are very confident the infrastructure will hold up.”
Spectators must wear masks while moving around the park but not while sitting in the stands. Henman Hill will also be open to fans to watch the big screen, though the logistics are yet to be determined.
Bolton added: “We are helping to support the government and the industry to understand how we can increase fans as we work to get out of the pandemic, so we’re really happy to have a role in that and I don’t think it’s anything to do with the pandemic. class. Our opinion is very clear that Wimbledon is for everyone. I don’t recognize us as an elite organization, but clearly people can have their own point of view. “
The overall prize pool has been slightly reduced compared to 2019, from £ 36.9 million to £ 35 million. The singles champions will take home £ 1.7 million compared to £ 2.35 million two years ago, with early round cash prizes and qualifications on the rise.
Despite the reduced income from ticket sales and the additional costs associated with lodging players in designated hotels as part of a low-risk environment, the All England Club is confident that the annual surplus funding British tennis through Lawn Tennis Association will not be significantly reduced.
At Queen’s, no. 2 Brit Cameron Norrie reached the Queen’s Club first quarter-finals after beating Aslan Karatsev in form. The 25-year-old won a hard-fought first set and took advantage of a bad fall on the back line of his Russian opponent to run away with the second, winning 7-5, 6-2.
Norrie will face Jack Draper after the British teenager continued his breakthrough tournament with victory over world number 39 Alexander Bublik. Draper, who stunned Jannik Sinner in 23rd place in the first round for his first solo APT Tour win, impressively claimed that win with a 7-6 (5), 7-6 (0) success.
The 19-year-old’s win means Britain is guaranteed at least one semi-finalist, with Dan Evans and Murray still in the mix.