Wimbledon: Former champions Andy Murray and Venus Williams given wildcards

Wimbledon: Former champions Andy Murray and Venus Williams given wildcards

Andy Murray and Venus Williams – who have won seven Wimbledon singles titles between them – have been handed wildcard entries for this year’s championships.

Britain’s Murray won the second of his two Wimbledon titles in 2016 but due to persistent injury problems is ranked 124, which is outside the cut-off for direct qualification.

The 34-year-old beat Frenchman Benoit Paire at Queen’s on Tuesday in his first singles match since March.

Five-time champion Williams, 40, is ranked 103rd in the world.

Her French Open campaign came to an early end when she was beaten in the first round by Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Wimbledon, cancelled last year due to the coronavirus, is a government pilot event to test the return of large crowds to events.

Centre Court and No.1 Court will open at 50% capacity at the start of the tournament on June 28 while the smaller show courts will be permitted to open at 75% capacity. Organisers are planning to increase ticket allocations later in the event and aim to have 100 percent capacity on Centre Court for the semi-finals and finals.

Former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville expressed his frustration at the differences in coronavirus rules across the country.

“Can’t dance at a wedding but can stuff strawberries and champagne down your neck at the All England Club packed with tens of thousands crammed like sardines in a tin,” he tweeted.

However, All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton hit back.

“We are helping to support the government and the sector to understand how we can increase fans as we work our way out of the pandemic so we’re really pleased to be playing a part in that and I don’t think that’s got anything to do with class,” she said.

“Our view is very clearly that Wimbledon is for everyone. I don’t recognise us as an elitist organisation but clearly people can have their own view.”

Overall prize money has been reduced slightly from 2019, down from £36.9 million ($52 million) to £35 million.

The singles champions will take home £1.7 million compared with £2.35 million two years ago. Prize money for the early rounds and qualifying has increased.

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