Three of the sport’s aces will miss the US Open with injuries but will remain a hit with marketers, raising a top ten that has grossed $ 320 million in the past 12 months.
TThis year’s US Open will miss some of its most famous faces, including veterans Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, as well as Dominic Thiem, 27, last year’s men’s champion. But it doesn’t matter who wins the tournament – and its top prize of $ 2.5 million – it won’t mean much to the top ranks of the highest-paid tennis players, who more than make up for any drop in prices with their. wages of endorsements.
Federer, who will miss the Open with a knee injury, reclaims first place this year with a pre-tax profit of $ 90.6 million in the past 12 months in Forbes’ count, less than a million dollars from real tennis. Naomi Osaka added to her 2021 record to claim second place with $ 60.1 million, more than 90% off the court. Williams, who is healing a hamstring tear, takes third place with $ 41.8 million, followed by Novak Djokovic with $ 38 million. Nadal completes the top five with $ 27 million, despite a foot disease that puts him out of action until 2022.
Collectively, the ten highest-paid players in tennis have earned $ 320 million in the past 12 months, down 6% from last year’s total of $ 340 million, in large part because of the pandemic eliminated opportunities for players to collect both cash prizes and appearance fees, which can run into the millions for superstars eager to show up at smaller shows and tournaments. The slowdown was eased off the pitch, where all ten players earned $ 281 million, a 4% increase from last year despite cutting spending from many brands as Covid-19 took a rough turn. testing their budgets.
It’s a luxury that not everyone has in sports. Tennis players basically work as independent entrepreneurs, without a paycheck – neither a team or a league – to get them through tough times. And the pain caused by event cancellations over the past 18 months goes beyond the missed prizes. With the exception of a few of the biggest stars, including Federer and Williams, tennis player sponsorship deals typically include discounts if they don’t meet minimum playing requirements.
This difficult reality has led the United States Tennis Association to change the distribution of prize money at the US Open this year to help lower ranked players who may be in trouble. As the total prize pool hits a record $ 57.5 million, the payout for each singles champion has been reduced to $ 2.5 million, down 17% from last year and by 35% from 2019. Meanwhile, players who lose in the first round will take home $ 75,000, up from $ 61,000 last year, and second-round losers will receive a raise of $ 15,000, to $ 115,000.
The change comes at an important time of transition for the sport, with some of its brightest stars nearing retirement. While Djokovic remains dominant, with three Grand Slam titles already in 2021, Federer, 40, has only played five events since February 2020 and recently said on Instagram that he would need surgery and be missing ” many months, ”suggesting that he might never return to competitive tennis. Williams turns 40 next month and Nadal, 35, has played a total of 14 events in the past two years, down from 2019 alone. This year’s Open is the first Grand Slam event without any of the three in the singles main draw since 1997, as tennis writer Ben Rothenberg noted on Twitter.
The competition will remain lively off the court, however, as tennis mainstays join forces with Andy Murray to build their businesses. Murray, 34, once considered one of the Big Four of men’s tennis, alongside Djokovic, Federer and Nadal, has spent the last few years compiling equity deals off the pitch, despite being largely sidelined by injuries.
Here are the ten highest-paid tennis players for 2021 as the US Open main draw begins today.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic tied Roger Federer’s record with 20 Grand Slam singles titles, but Federer remains the unanimous GOAT with the sponsors, having raised nearly $ 900 million in the field throughout his career to accompany its $ 131 million in prize money. He became the sixth active athlete to achieve $ 1 billion in career income (before taxes and agent fees) this year. And a big payday is yet to come: Federer owns a stake in Swiss running shoe company On, which is about to go public. It’s no surprise, then, that Federer is the highest-paid tennis player in tennis for the sixteenth consecutive year.
Naomi Osaka withdrew from this year’s French Open and skipped Wimbledon, citing her sanity, but sponsors like Nike have backed her, and she continues to add partners to a portfolio of sponsors that includes over 20, the latest being Panasonic. The 23-year-old, who suffered a disappointing third round loss at the Tokyo Olympics but has been one of the faces of marketing efforts around the Games, has also been the model for a Barbie doll who’s is sold a few hours after its release this summer.
Serena Williams has been unable to improve her Open Era record of 23 Grand Slam singles titles since winning the 2017 Australian Open, and she sits at No.22 in the standings, with another drop ready to come at the end of the US Open. But she, like Roger Federer, remains a safe bet with sponsors, with nearly 20 partners, and she now ranks among the richest self-made women in America. Its Serena Ventures fund has invested in 66 startups.
Novak Djokovic’s loss in the Olympic semi-final ended his bid for the first Golden Slam in men’s tennis history, but he remains on track for his first Grand Slam of a calendar year since Rod Laver accomplished the feat in 1969. A victory at the Open, of course, would also have pushed the 34-year-old ahead of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to own the record for men’s Grand Slam singles titles with 21. Djokovic a added partnerships with Raiffeisen Bank, Lemero Printer Cartridges, and Hublot Watches this year, and its total prize money would be even higher if it weren’t for its flaw at the year’s US Open last for inadvertently hitting a linesman with a tennis ball; the disqualification meant he lost every $ 250,000 he would have earned to make it to the fourth round.
Rafael Nadal is taking time off work as he manages a rare condition known as Müller-Weiss disease, or Müller-Weiss syndrome, in which a bone along the arch of the foot begins to deteriorate. He hopes to return to the field in 2022, and if his health and the Covid-19 situation permits, he may once again seek to order $ 1 million per appearance at exhibitions and small events. Its list of sponsors includes Nike, Babolat, Richard Mille and, new for 2021, Amstel.
Even though he has fallen to 56th place in the table, Kei Nishikori retains his place among the highest paid tennis players due to the lucrative sponsorship deals he signed ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, as Japanese sponsors sidelined. expected it to be one of the main draws of the Games. . The 31-year-old has more than a dozen partners, but the question now is what happens when some of those deals expire in the next year or so.
A spectacular three-year streak has carried Daniil Medvedev to number 2 in the table, but he remains in search of his first Grand Slam title. Exclude the 25-year-old in New York: he finished second at the US Open in 2019 and reached the Australian Open final in February, where he lost to Novak Djokovic. Success on the pitch is paying off with lucrative approval deal renegotiations, and a first major win could push it even higher next year. Its partners include Lacoste, Bovet watches and Tinkoff Bank, and it announced a deal with gaming equipment company HyperX last week.
A wrist injury suffered at the Mallorca Open in June has derailed Dominic Thiem’s momentum since winning the US Open last year to break through the Djokovic-Nadal-Federer gauntlet and become the sole player male currently in his twenties with a Grand Slam singles title. Thiem, 27, counts Adidas, Babolat and Red Bull among his partners and has new agreements with Technogym and NEOH chocolate bars.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has jumped to No.3 in the table from No.6 last year, is the only new member to the highest-paid list, toppling Simona Halep. The 23-year-old, who first reached a Grand Slam final in June at Roland Garros, is associated with brands like Wilson, Adidas and Rolex and has a captivating personality which industry experts say , could catapult him ahead of Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem in the long-term marketing hierarchy. Yet he recently created minor controversy when he expressed his reluctance to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
After a career year in 2019 with $ 11.3 million in prize money – the second highest total on the WTA Tour ever – Ashleigh Barty has only played four events in 2020, taking an extended hiatus amid the pandemic and keeping its No.1 ranking only because the tour temporarily adjusted its point system. She came back strong in 2021, with five singles titles, including Wimbledon, and a solid prize of $ 3.8 million, the best score in women’s tennis this year. Yet while all Grand Slam tournaments offer equal prizes for men and women – the US Open lined up its awards in 1973, and Wimbledon became the last of four majors to do so in 2007 – the victory de Barty this month at the Western & Southern Open outside Cincinnati once again reminded us that a gender pay gap persists. The 25-year-old won $ 255,220 for her title; Meanwhile, men’s champion Alexander Zverev raised $ 654,815.
Field earnings figures reflect cash prizes collected over the past 12 months, dating back to the 2020 US Open. Off-field revenue estimates reflect revenue from endorsements, appearances, licenses and memorabilia , as well as cash returns from all businesses operated by the player. Forbes does not include investment income such as interest payments or dividends and does not deduct taxes or agent fees.
Forbes Featured Stories