Roger Federer has been a staple at the US Open for nearly two decades. He won the US Open junior title in 1998 and appeared in the main draw every year since then, including a modern-era record-tying five Open titles. But the 17-time Grand Slam champion is sitting out the 2016 Open as he recovers from knee and back injuries that will sideline him through December. Federer won six ATP tournaments last year, but 2016 will be the first year in which he failed to win a title since 2000.
However, the Swiss tennis legend retains one crown: the world’s highest-paid tennis player. Federer banked $67.8 million between June 2015 and June 2016 from prize money, endorsements and appearance fees. Federer has been the top-earner in the sport annually since Andre Agassi hung up his racket in 2006.
Novak Djokovic surpassed Federer on the court with five Grand Slam titles since the start of 2014, but Djokovic still can’t touch him with sponsors as Fed’s off-court earnings are almost twice as much. Federer has 10 endorsement partners, and the vast majority of them like Nike NKE -0.89%, Wilson, Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz and Rolex have been affiliated with him for years.
The tennis audience is an attractive demographic for marketers as fans have high disposable incomes to spend on apparel, cars, equipment and watches. The median income of fans at the Open is roughly $160,000. Brands love Federer’s sustained-run of elite-level play. He won at least four tournaments every year but one between 2003 and 2015 and his 302 weeks ranked No. 1 in the world is a record. It has made Federer a safe bet for brands to bet on.
Federer also pads his bank account as the top draw for exhibition matches. He commands appearance fees of at least $2 million for certain exhibitions because he can move the needle on ticket sales. Federer pulled in $60 million from sponsors and appearance fees by Forbes’ count, along with $7.8 million in prize money. Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and LeBron James were the only athletes on the planet to bank more than Federer during Forbes’ June-to-June time frame. His total career earnings are an estimated $560 million, including endorsements.
Federer’s latest venture, the Laver Cup, is modeled after golf’s Ryder Cup. The annual event will kick off with a three-day competition in September 2017 and pit a European team against “The World.” Federer and Rafael Nadal committed to play for Europe, and the event is majority owned by Federer’s management company TEAM8 . Federer owns a stake in TEAM8, which is run by his longtime agent Tony Godsick.
Djokovic ranks No. 2 among tennis’ top earners for the second straight year with $55.8 million, including $21.8 million in prize money. He was the first to ever win $20 million in prize money in a single year with his dominant 2015 season. The Serbian star completed the career Grand Slam in June with his French Open title and in the process became the first tennis player to cross the $100 million threshold in career prize money. Djokovic’s three Slam titles in 2015 and year-end No. 1 ranking triggered lucrative bonuses from sponsors like Uniqlo , Head and Adidas .
Nadal earned $37.5 million and ranks third. The 14-time Grand Slam champion was sidelined for two months because of injuries, but returned to play at the Rio Olympics and won a gold medal for doubles. Nadal’s endorsement partners include Nike, Babolat, Kia Motors, Telefonica, Banco Sabadell, Richard Mille, Tommy Hilfiger and more. Kia renewed its deal with Nadal year last for an additional five years through 2020.
In addition to their 43 Grand Slam singles titles, the Big Three of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal are the leading earners in career prize money with a combined $278 million (Andy Murray is No. 4, but $31.5 million behind Nadal in career winnings).
Kei Nishikori is the biggest mover among the top earners in tennis. He moves up three spots to fourth with earnings of $33.5 million. He won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics with a victory over Nadal in the third place match. Nishikori is wildly popular in Asia—with the endorsement deals to match—thanks to his status as the first Asian-born player to reach a men’s Grand Slam final, which he did in 2014. The 26-year-old renewed his endorsement deal with Uniqlo with the new deal worth more than $10 million annually starting in 2016.
The very top earners in tennis are all men, but Serena Williams headlines a group of seven women that rank among the 12 highest-paid players. Tennis is the one major sport where women operate for the most part on equal footing as the men. The men’s and women’s champion at the US Open will both take home record first place checks of $3.5 million.
Williams made $28.9 million over the last 12 months and unseated Maria Sharapova as thehighest-paid female athlete for the first time in a dozen years. Williams tied the modern-day record at Wimbledon with her 22nd Grand Slam title in singles. She is gunning to surpass Steffi Graf’s mark of 22 at the US Open. Williams’ $81 million in career prize money is more than double the total of No. 2 Sharapova. Williams’ endorsement portfolio includes more than a dozen brands like Nike, Chase , IBM IBM +0.01%, Delta Air Lines DAL +0.95%, Wilson and Beats.
The top 12 highest-paid players earned $319 million over the last 12 months, up 12% over last year with endorsements fueling much of the gains. Another appealing attribute about tennis for sponsors: the global nature of the game. Events take place around the world and the entrant list in most tournaments is a veritable Union Nations. The 12 biggest earners hail from 10 different countries with Williams the lone American of the group.
1. Roger Federer
Total Earnings: $67.8 million
Prize Money: $7.8 million
Endorsements: $60 million
The 17-time Grand Slam winner will be sidelined the last six months of 2016 to recover from a knee injury. It marks his first year without a tournament title since 2000, but he maintains a robust endorsement portfolio with long-term deals with blue-chip companies like Nike, Rolex. Mercedes-Benz and Credit Suisse.
2. Novak Djokovic
Total earnings: $55.8 million
Prize money: $21.8 million
Endorsements: $34 million
The Serbian star has dominated tennis over the past four years, including completing the career Grand Slam with his French Open win in June. Djokovic also became the first player to cross the $100 million level in career prize money in June. His three Grand Slam titles in 2015 and year-end No. 1 ranking kicked in valuable bonuses from sponsors.
3. Rafael Nadal
Total earnings: $37.5 million
Prize money: $5.5 million
Endorsements: $32 million
The 14-time Grand Slam champion was sidelined for two months because of injuries, but returned to play at the Rio Olympics and won a gold medal for doubles. Nadal’s endorsement partners include Nike, Babolat, Kia Motors, Telefonica, Banco Sabadell, Richard Mille, Tommy Hilfiger and more. Kia renewed its deal with Nadal year last for an additional five years through 2020.
4. Kei Nishikori
Total earnings: $33.5 million
Prize money: $3.5 million
Endorsements: $30 million
Nishikori won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics by defeating Nadal in the third place match. He is wildly popular in Asia thanks to his status as the first Asian-born player to reach a men’s Grand Slam final, which he did in 2014. The 26-year-old renewed his endorsement deal with Uniqlo with the new deal worth more than $10 million annually starting in 2016.
5. Serena Williams
Total earnings: $28.9 million
Prize money: $8.9 million
Endorsements: $20 million
Williams tied the modern-day record at Wimbledon with her 22nd Grand Slam title in singles. Her $81 million in prize money is more than double the total of No. 2 Maria Sharapova. Williams’ endorsement portfolio includes more than a dozen brands like Nike, Chase, IBM, Delta Air Lines, Wilson and Beats.
6. Andy Murray
Total earnings: $23 million
Prize money: $8 million
Endorsements: $15 million
Murray captured his second gold medal for singles at the Rio Summer Olympics (he also won a mixed doubles silver at the London Olympics). He picked up his third Grand Slam title in June at Wimbledon in July. His $47 million in career prize money ranks fourth all-time.
7. Maria Sharapova
Total earnings: $21.9 million
Prize money: $1.9 million
Endorsements: $20 million
Sharapova shocked the tennis world in March with her announcement of a failed drug test. Nike and Porsche both suspended promotional plans with the Russian-born player, but neither terminated their contract. Other partners including Evian and Head stuck by Sharapova, while Avon decided not to renew its deal with Sharapova as the face of its Luck fragrance. She has been the world’s highest-paid female athlete 11 straight times until this year when Serena Williams took her crown.
8. Stan Wawrinka
Total earnings: $17.4 million
Prize money: $6.4 million
Endorsements: $11 million
The Swiss pro won his second Grand Slam in 2015 at Roland Garros. The win triggered lucrative bonuses from sponsors like Yonex and Evian. Wawrinka cashed in by playing the IPTL last year with its lucrative appearance fees. His world ranking hit No. 3 this month matching his career high set in the first half of 2014.
9. Agnieszka Radwanska
Total earnings: $10.2 million
Prize money: $5.2 million
Endorsements: $5 million
The world’s No. 4 ranked player won three events last year, including the WTA Final. The wins and high ranking triggered lucrative bonuses for the Polish star. Her endorsement partners include Lotto, Babolat, Lexus, Workday, Rado and Amica. Her $23 million in career prize money ranks sixth all-time.
Total Earnings: $8 million
Prize money: $1 million
Endorsements: $7 million
The former top-ranked player in the world has seen her ranking plummet over the past 12 months to No. 74. She won only half of her first 26 matches of 2016 and reached only a single quarterfinal. Adidas remains her most lucrative endorsement partner.