US Open Tennis Prize Money Through The Years (2023)
In 2022 the cheque for both the men's and women’s US Open champions totalled $2.6 million (approx £2.1 million). It won’t be too long until the champion walks away with a cool $3 million (2023).
The US Open has historically attracted the biggest crowds in tennis, and offers the most prize money to the champion compared to any other grand slam. Let’s take a closer look at what makes the US Open so special, how the prize money at the event has evolved over the years and what we can expect for the future.
The Uniqueness Of The US Open
The US Open takes place in Flushing Meadows, New York, which is one of the most impressive and largest tennis complexes in the world. There are 22 match courts, 12 practice courts, and four main show courts (Arthur Ashe, Louis Armstrong, Grandstand and Court 17).
Believe it or not, the US Open has actually been played on grass, clay, and hard courts throughout the years. However, most people will know the US Open for their fast, slick, hard courts that have been in place since 1978.
Given the Open is played in a city that never sleeps, it is unsurprising that the show courts at Flushing Meadows attract some of the most noisy and rowdy crowds in the tennis world.
The US Open presents a unique and lucrative opportunity for copious advertising around the grounds, TV rights, and sponsorship deals.
Therefore, the prize money on offer for the players reflects this, and even lower-ranked players who are knocked out in the early rounds can make life-changing sums of money!
US Open Prize Money – The Early Years
Nowadays, the US Open draws in around 750,000 fans across the fortnight that the event is played. This is a substantial amount of eyeballs, let alone the millions that tune in around the world.
But, the event has not always been as popular throughout the years, and therefore, the prize money has not always been as generous as it is today.
The inaugural US Open was held in 1881, but the event was not professionally recognized until 1968 (the beginning of the Open era). In this event, the total prize money pot for the men’s and women’s events totaled $100,000.
This is a far cry from the $60m on offer to the players today.
The start of the open era in 1968 brought more popularity and, therefore, prize money to the tennis scene. This meant that the biggest tournaments in the world could offer their champions prizes that better reflected the hard work and dedication it took to win.
The US Open started out by offering just over $26,000 in total prize money for all events played. This jumped to around $280,000 in 1988, and the prize pot on offer continued the trend of 10X every 10 years up until 1998, when the total prize money was $7.2 million.
Since the early 2000s, prize money at the US Open has steadily risen in line with increased media coverage, growth of the sport in general, and inflation.
With this in mind, it is not surprising that US Open prize money has increased for almost every single year the tournament has been played.
One of the largest increases in US Open prize money that nearly doubled the pot came in 2000 when it nearly doubled from $7.2 million to $15 million. Another major jump came in 2013 when the prize money on offer was over $34 million, up from $25.5 million the previous year.
Gender Parity at the US Open
Equal pay between men and women in tennis has been a hotly contested topic over the years. Billie Jean King pioneered the gender parity movement and saw the US Open set the trend for all of the grand slams in tennis, eventually offering equal pay to both men and women players.
In fact, the US Open was the first of the tennis Grand Slams to offer equal pay in 1973, with both champions (John Newcombe and Margaret Court) receiving $25,000 each.
Nowadays, all of the grand slams offer equal prize money throughout each round of the tournament, something that has made a big difference in the perception of gender equality in the sport.
The Future of US Open Prize Money
As with most large sporting events, the US Open attracts millions of dollars in sponsorship, TV rights, and ticket sales year after year. With the advent of social media and the hotly anticipated Netflix series covering the tennis world more closely, interest in the sport, in general, is sure to grow over the coming years.
This will undoubtedly raise the prize pot of the US Open to new heights, but perhaps not at the same rate as the early years whilst in growth periods. Rising tides raise all boats, so the more money on offer to the US Open champion, the more the rest of the field will likely receive too.
This plays a major role in making the role of a professional tennis player more financially viable, even in the lower echelons of the rankings.
How US Open Prize Money is Supporting the Wider Game
In 2023, the US Open will be celebrating 50 years of equal prize money. This signifies not only the financial incentives that the tournament has brought to the best tennis players in the world but also the impact the US Open has had on the wider game.
The US Open has had a wider variety of champions than any other slam, and that represents the openness of the field and how the tournament presents such a great opportunity to make a name for yourself.
With the biggest live audiences in the entire sport, the US Open offering such large prize money pots means life-changing upsets occur more often at the US Open than any other slam.
There have also been large increases in the amount of money being allocated to Wheelchair tennis at the US Open, giving these incredibly talented players a springboard to fund their travels for the rest of the year. Over $1 million was allocated to the Wheelchair event in 2022, up 72% on the previous year.
US Open Prize Money – Winning The Jackpot
The US Open is clearly the most commercially driven grand slam of the lot. The New York crowd loves their tennis and also enjoys having a great time supporting their favorite players. Ticket sales, sponsorships, and TV rights deals all contribute to the eye-watering top line of the US Open prize pot.
However, this money is distributed to the players in such a way that the US Open has become the most lucrative tennis tournament to compete in across the calendar.
Who’s your money on winning this year?
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