Federer, Nadal, Williams: What do the best tennis players in the world get paid?

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Rafael Nadal recently confirmed his supremacy as the King of Clay by winning his 13th title at Roland Garros at the delayed French Open. This brought him level on men’s Grand Slam championships with Roger Federer with 20 apiece.

Novak Djokovic, who has had a turbulent year on and off the court, remains the world ranked number one men’s player by a distance. However, in terms of earnings for last year, both Djokovic and Nadal are dwarfed by Roger Federer.

Federer not only tops the tennis money list, but is also the world’s highest paid sportsman. In the past year, up until June 2020, Federer earned more than footballers Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, and legendary basketball superstar LeBron James. 

Federer ($106 million) amassed more in annual pre-tax earnings than Cristiano Ronaldo ($105 million), Lionel Messi ($104 million), Neymar ($95.5 million), and LeBron James ($88.2 million).

This year has also seen the emergence of a new star in the women’s game. Naomi Osaka won her maiden Grand Slam title back in 2018 against Serena Williams. She added to this by winning the Australian Open in 2019 and then winning the US Open again in 2020.

This increased profile and success at the age of just 23 has seen her become earmarked as the next big thing in women’s tennis.

Therefore, she has this year pipped the great Serena Williams to become the highest paid female player in terms of income from tournaments and endorsements.

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Forbes, in conjunction with Statista, compiled earnings from both tournament wins and advertising endorsements from June 2019 to June 2020.

10) Simona Halep: $10.9 million

Tournament wins: $6.9 million

Advertising contracts: $4 million

The former world number 1 missed out on Grand Slam success this year after winning Wimbledon last year. Her most recent title was the Italian Open back in September.

9) Dominic Thiem: $11.1 million

Tournament wins: $7.1 million

Advertising contracts: $4 million

Thiem finally broke his Grand Slam duck this year after reaching three finals previously. He beat Alexander Zverev at the US Open after coming back from two sets down. He also became the first player outside of the ‘Big 3’ of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic to win a Grand Slam since 2016.

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8) Daniil Medvedev: $11.8 million

Tournament wins: $7.3 million

Advertising contracts: $4.5 million

Medvedev reached his maiden Grand Slam final last year at the US Open. He was defeated by Nadal in five sets. He also reached the semi finals at this year’s tournament.

7) Ashleigh Barty: $11.1 million

Tournament wins: $10.1 million

Advertising contracts: $3 million

Barty’s maiden Grand Slam victory came at the French Open last summer. A little-known fact is that she took a hiatus from tennis earlier in her career to play semi-professional cricket in Australia between 2014-2016 before coming back to play tennis.

6) Kei Nishikori: $32.1 million

Tournament wins: $1.1 million

Advertising contracts: $31 million

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Nishikori is the first and only Japanese male player to reach the top five of the rankings in their history. He reached a career high of fourth in 2015. He reached his only Grand Slam final to date back in 2014. Thus, his profile has sustained a lucrative career through endorsements.

5) Serena Williams: $36 million

Tournament wins: $4 million

Advertising contracts: $32 million

Arguably the greatest women’s player of all time and most definitely the most successful woman of the modern era. She is still searching for her 24th title which would draw her level with Margaret Court for most Grand Slam titles.

4) Naomi Osaka: $37.4 million

Tournament wins: $3.4 million

Advertising contracts: $34 million

Osaka has risen to prominence over the past couple of years and recently won her third Grand Slam at last month’s US Open. Her earnings have vastly increased, both on and off, during this time.

3) Rafael Nadal: $40 million

Tournament wins: $7.1 million

Advertising contracts: $4 million

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Nadal joined Federer on 20 Grand Slam titles after his win at the French Open last Sunday. Amazingly, the Spaniard has won over 100 times at Roland Garros, only losing twice in his whole career.

2) Novak Djokovic: $44.6 million

Tournament wins: $7.1 million

Advertising contracts: $4 million

Despite making the headlines for all the wrong reasons this year after hitting the ball at a line judge and throwing a party in the middle of a pandemic, Djokovic is still number one men’s player in the world. He won the Australian Open back in January and was a beaten finalist at the French Open.

1) Roger Federer: $106.3 million

Tournament wins: $6.3 million

Advertising contracts: $100 million

Despite an injury hit year, he still reached the Australian Open semi finals back in January. His earning potential still far outstrips any player on the tour and globally he is the best paid sportsperson on the planet. The Fed Express still rolls on to this day.

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The great disparity that is highlighted in this list is the difference between Serena Williams and Roger Federer – two absolute giants of the game.

Despite both having illustrious careers and Serena even having won more Grand Slam titles than her male counterpart, their earning potential is still quite radically different.

Tennis has made good strides in normalising equal pay. For Grand Slam tournaments, prize money has been equal now for several years. However, in terms of endorsements, Federer’s earnings outstrip Serena’s by three to one.

Clearly the quest for equality in this regard still has some way to travel yet.

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