Wimbledon has plan in place if Andy Murray announces retirement at SW19

<span>Andy Murray leaves the practice courts at Wimbledon in 2023.</span><span>Photograph: Steven Paston/PA</span>
Andy Murray leaves the practice courts at Wimbledon in 2023.Photograph: Steven Paston/PA

The All England Club is “ready and prepared” to commemorate Andy Murray’s career should the two-times Wimbledon champion announce his retirement plans at the tournament, which will offer record prize money of £50m when it begins on 1 July.

At Wimbledon’s annual pre-event press conference, Sally Bolton, the AELTC’s chief executive officer, said that the club would be guided by Murray on whether and how they would mark the Briton’s career.

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“We have certainly got plans in place and we’re ready and prepared,” said Bolton. “But ultimately, it’s Andy’s decision and we’ll very much be led by him and we can amend our plans accordingly.”

It remains to be seen if Murray, who said this year that he is unlikely to continue playing after this summer, will decide to actually retire at Wimbledon. The Briton hopes to compete at the Olympic Games, but his presence in Paris will probably depend on whether he can compete in doubles. The Olympic team will be named at the end of this week but the Olympic doubles entrants will not be confirmed until July.

Should Wimbledon be Murray’s final tournament, Bolton said the AELTC would require no notice. “We’re ready, we’ve got plans,” she said. “They’re very adaptable. We’re clear about what we want to do. But it’s really important that this is Andy’s call and so we’ll be very much led by him in the decision he makes.”

Wimbledon will offer a prize pot of £50m for this year’s tournament – an increase of £5.3m from last year. This year, the men’s and women’s champions will receive £2.7m each. First round losers will receive £60,000.

The tournament, meanwhile, will continue to open up Centre Court at 1.30pm on most days this year despite suggestions from Murray and Novak Djokovic that play should start earlier after unpredictable weather led to late finishes. Start times at grand slam tournaments have been a general issue recently, with play finishing as late as 3am at the French Open. Wimbledon at least has a strict curfew of 11pm.

“We’re still confident we can achieve what we need to do in that period of time,” said Bolton. “We’ve reviewed it, we’ve thought long and hard, and looked at the data around length of matches and the trends that are occurring in that space. We’re very confident and happy with the decision that we’ve made this year.”

The All England Club, meanwhile, will continue to provide support for displaced Ukrainian players, including allowing access to facilities and places to train for the duration of the grass-court season. In 2022, the All England Club announced a donation of £100,000 to support the British Red Cross’s Ukraine Crisis Appeal.

The club also allocates 1,000 tickets for refugees. Asked whether the AELTC intended to specifically donate to causes in Gaza, where Israeli air attacks and ground incursion into the territory has killed over 30,000 Palestinian people, Deborah Jevans, the All England Club’s new chair, only reiterated that the Wimbledon Foundation donates to the British Red Cross, which allocates its funds to numerous causes, including Gaza and Ukraine.

“One of our significant charitable partners is the Red Cross and we provide funds to them through our foundation and they then distribute those funds internationally throughout the world, which include Gaza as well as Ukraine,” said Jevans. “Our approach is that they have a good partnership with them, they are an international charity and they determine where funds go.”

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal has said he is “saddened” to miss Wimbledon after opting to prioritise preparing for the Olympics in Paris and skip the risky physical demands of changing to grass and back again.

“During my post-match press conference at Roland Garros I was asked about my summer calendar and since then I have been practising on clay,” said the 38-year-old. “It was announced yesterday that I will play at the summer Olympics in Paris, my last Olympics. With this goal, we believe that the best for my body is not to change surface and keep playing on clay until then.

“It’s for this reason that I will miss playing at the Championships this year at Wimbledon. I am saddened not to be able to live this year the great atmosphere of that amazing event that will always be in my heart, and be with all the British fans that always gave me great support. I will miss you all.”

With Nadal set to retire at some point this season, it appears his final match at Wimbledon will have been a quarter-final victory over Taylor Fritz in 2022, following which he withdrew through injury.

As well as a tilt at a second Olympic gold medal in singles at Roland Garros, Nadal will also team up with Carlos Alcaraz in the men’s doubles.