Roger Federer ruled world tennis for 237 consecutive weeks. Establishing the record for longevity in the first place in the world until this week when he was stripped of his title by his current rival Raphael Nadal .
But when it comes to talking about income then Federer remains the undisputed number one far ahead of all the others. His earnings over the last twelve months amounted to $35 million, almost twice Nadal’s estimated $18 million.
The Swiss maestro earned 9 million on the circuit last year and raked in $26 million in appearance rights and sponsorship deals signed with Gillette, Mercedes-Benz and Wilson. His biggest income comes from Nike, which signed a 10-year contract with the reigning US Open champion, which could be the biggest in the history of world tennis.
People’s interest in tennis has been declining lately especially in the United States. An average of 2.3 million people watched the Wimbledon tournament over the past three years, according to data provided by Nielsen media research. Which corresponds to 45% less audiences compared to the 90s. So how do Federer earn much more money than established stars of much more popular sports such as Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba , Raul or Cristiano Ronaldo?
Quite simply because Federer has won 55 titles in 17 countries and is a global brand in his own right. He is multilingual (English, French, German etc.). He has played tennis legend Pete Sampras several times across Asia and four times last spring at Madison Square Garden. His fee is one million dollars per game.
Another reason for the enormity of the deals that tennis stars make: what Americans call “prime demographics”. When casual fans turn away plunging TV audiences into the abyss, the real fan remains there and a large part of high-income fans are ready to spend a fortune to afford the same model of racket or polo as their idol. Statistics show that 54% of American fans earn more than $150,000 per year and 68% of them have a level of education at least equal to a baccalaureate.
To make our list of the highest paid tennis players we based ourselves on the earnings of the last 12 months. Revenues include tournament winnings, bonuses received from exhibition matches, advertising and sponsorship contracts. The top 10 in our ranking won $159 million. The lowest paid had 7.5 million while the number 37 million. This represents 23% of the total gains.
If we refer to the earnings of the last three years then the top 10 have taken in 116 million dollars. The entry price is $5 million. Like three years ago, this year’s roster maintains perfect parity when it comes to gender. It is made up of five men and five girls.
Sandwiched between Federer and Rafael Nadal , Maria Sharapova the highest paid female athlete in the world with $26 million in earnings is second on our list. Sharapova burst onto the scene when she won Wimbledon in 2004 aged 17. Nike and the racket manufacturer Prince were in contract with the Russian with infinite legs.
His victory at Wimbledon sent many other contracts including Canon, Motorola (since expired), Colgate-Palmolive. She has since won two more Grand Slams. Its most recent sponsors are Sony and Tiffany.
Three Americans are tied for 4th place with earnings estimated at $15 million each. They are the Williams sisters and Andy Roddick . The latter is the highest-ranked and most promising American tennis player since the retirements of veterans Sampras and Agassi from the circuit . What helped him with Lacoste, Lexus and SAP.
Many of their contemporaries have since hung up the rackets, but the Williams sisters continue to pile up grand slam victories during their career launched in the mid-90s. Most of their income comes from contracts with brands of shoes. Serena is tied to Nike while Venus promotes her own brand of footwear and apparel sold exclusively at Steve & Barry’s. Venus continues to collect royalties despite the discount seller’s road bank.
The sisters added a second gold medal in doubles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics to the one they won in Sidney in 2000. Venus also has another Olympic gold medal from her singles triumph in Sidney as well.