Making it big in tennis can be quite a racket.
The top 10 highest-paid tennis aces net a combined $340 million in the past year, which is up from $312 million last year, according to a new Forbes report released ahead of Monday’s U.S. Open. And the pros facing off in New York have a chance to expand their wealth even more with $44 million in prize money at stake, including $3 million apiece for the male and female singles champs.
The pandemic has slammed the sport this year, however, particularly for aspiring athletes hustling to rise high enough in the ranks. Both the ATP and WTA tours were suspended in early March as the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spread. And Monday’s U.S. Open will be played without fans in the stands, and with some star players sitting this one out over COVID-19 concerns.
But the players at the top of the sport have a safety net thanks to their lucrative endorsement deals and investments. In fact, some have been able to keep raking it in without even picking up a racket.
Take the No. 1 highest earning athlete on the list, Switzerland’s Roger Federer, whose pretax earnings of $106.3 million between June 2019 and June 2020 make him not only the highest-paid tennis player for the 15th year running, but also the top-earning athlete on the planet, Forbes says. And he only played in 10 ATP tournaments during the scoring period, winning two of them. The 39-year-old will miss the U.S. Open as he recovers from an injury.
And that’s no sweat, because he earned 95% of his income off the court in the past year, especially after signing a $300 million 10-year contract with Uniqlo in 2018 that pays him whether he plays or not. He has 20 Grand Slam singles titles under his belt, after all, and as Uniqlo’s head of global creative told Forbes in May, “We feel the greatest impact of Roger Federer is yet to come.”
Serbian Novak Djokovic, who counts French auto maker Peugeot
among his sponsors, is second on the list with $44.6 million in pre-tax earnings. He was sidelined after contracting COVID-19 in June, but plans to play in the U.S. Open in New York, where he’s favored to win. But Spain’s Rafael Nadal, who’s No. 3 on the list with $40 million, will also skip the U.S. Open. Most of his earnings last year (65%, in fact) were also made off-court, as his appearance fees run more than $1 million.
Japan’s Naomi Osaka, who overtook U.S. tennis legend Serena Williams to become the highest paid female athlete in the world earlier this year, is No. 4 on the Forbes list with $37.4 million, while Williams chases her heels in fifth place with $36 million. Both will be competing in the U.S. Open, and both have deals with heavyweight sponsors such as Nike
and Procter & Gamble
And Williams has invested in more than 50 startups over the past six years, and her side projects have included a digital store on Amazon
Women make up 40% of the highest-earning tennis players on this year’s list, but fellow top 10 earners Ashleigh Barty (No. 7, $13.1 million) and Simona Halep (No. 10, $10.9 million) won’t be competing in the New York Open event. In fact, five of the players on this top 10 list won’t be playing, giving some other players a chance to win more U.S. Open prize money this year.
Here’s the list of the top 10 highest earning tennis players in 2020, according to Forbes:
1. Roger Federer (Switzerland): $106.3M
2. Novak Djokovic (Serbia): $44.6M
3. Rafael Nadal (Spain): $40M
4. Naomi Osaka (Japan): $37.4M
5. Serena Williams (USA): $36M
6. Kei Nishikori (Japan): $32.1M
7. Ashleigh Barty (Australia): $13.1M
8. Daniil Medvedev (Russia): $11.8M
9. Dominic Thiem (Austria): $11.1M
10. Simona Halep (Romania): $10.9M