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Tuesday, April 29
Duke of Kent: Bowing not sign of these times

Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England -- One of Wimbledon's most enduring traditions is finished -- players will no longer have to bow or curtsy to the Royal Box at Centre Court.

But while one custom fell Tuesday, the All England Club confirmed that another will remain: Men will be paid more than women.

Players have been required to bow or curtsy to the royal family when walking onto or leaving Centre Court. From now on they will have to do so only if Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Charles, her eldest son and heir to the throne, is in the box.

The queen hasn't attended Wimbledon since 1977 when she presented the women's trophy to Virginia Wade. Prince Charles made his only appearance in 1970.

The decision to scrap the tradition was made at the request of the Duke of Kent, who has been the All England Club's president since 1969. He and his wife, the Duchess of Kent, attend frequently each year and present the winners' trophies.

"It's been part of a discussion that's been going on for some time," All England chief executive Christopher Gorringe said. "It's sad, but we have to move on. We know there is very little bowing or curtsying done in royal circles now."

Meanwhile, the Wimbledon prize money gap will continue at this year's tournament, which runs from June 23 to July 6.

The men's winner will receive $914,250 and the women's champion will get $850,650. Lleyton Hewitt received $834,750 for winning last year while Serena Williams earned $772,740.

Total prize money for the grass-court tournament is going up 6.2 percent to $14.9 million.

Overall prize money for both sexes is up 6.8 percent to $7.4 million for men and $6.3 million for women.

Wimbledon and the French Open give more money to the men. The two other Grand Slam tournaments, the U.S. Open and Australian Open, pay equal prize money.

All England Club chairman Tim Phillips reiterated Wimbledon's position that the money split is "fair."

WTA chief executive Larry Scott said he was disappointed Wimbledon again "failed to address the long-standing inequity between men's and women's prize money."

There will be no prize money increase for doubles.

"We feel that doubles in today's market place has been ... over-rewarded in regards to singles," Phillips said.

Wimbledon also reiterated plans to limit the number of fans lining up overnight to watch play on the middle Saturday of the two-week tournament.

Citing safety concerns, the club is reducing the number of Centre Court tickets on sale for the middle Saturday from 2,000 to 500.

Last year, on the eve of British hope Tim Henman's third-round match on the middle Saturday, about 9,000 people camped out overnight.

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