(Reuters) - Former world number one Andy Murray believes Grand Slam prize money could be distributed better to help lower-ranked players struggling financially.
The tennis season was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown will continue at least until mid-July, depriving lower-level players, who depend solely on tournament winnings, of the chance to earn a living.
"Players ranked 250-300 in the world, it's going to be really challenging," Murray, who has won over $60 million in prize money, told CNN in an interview here "In the last few years, there's been some improvements... but probably not enough."
“Sometimes you see the prize money cheque for the winner of the Grand Slams. And it’s like, I don’t know what it is exactly, but something like $4 million.
“Could that money be used better and spent elsewhere in the earlier rounds or the qualifying draws or maybe used to grow some of the smaller events?”
The ATP and WTA, along with the International Tennis Federation and organisers of the four Grand Slams, said this week that they are creating a coronavirus relief fund to help players affected by the sport’s current shutdown.
Murray, who recovered from hip surgery last year to win the Antwerp title in October, was targeting a return to the tour at the Miami Open in March following rehabilitation from another hip injury.
The three-times Grand Slam winner has slipped to 129 in the world rankings.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis