Tennis is a sport that involves an incredible amount of money. Winning tournaments can bring in huge sums of money. But does this mean that most tennis players are rich?
There is an awful lot of money to be made in tennis. Yet only the very best players become very rich. For example, the top earns about $8 million in prize money a year, but players around 200th place earn only $100,000. In addition to prize money, players also earn a lot of money from sponsorships.
In this article, you will learn exactly how tennis players make their money, how much tournaments pay, and who the richest tennis players are.
When you think of professional tennis players, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the most successful players.
The ones that win major tournaments and belong to the world’s top players.
These players make a lot of money due to their prize money, sponsorships, and other sources of income.
However, earning a lot of money with tennis is quite difficult. There are relatively few rich tennis players.
Part of the reason it is difficult to become rich by playing tennis is that the sport costs a lot of money. Tennis rackets are not cheap, and the strings will have to be replaced quite often.
If you want to make it big, you will need several tennis rackets, and they will all need string replacements regularly.
Besides that, you need to have different shoes for different surfaces, so one pair per season won’t do.
Tennis players also need coaches, and they need to practice a lot, which costs a lot of money.
Not to mention that they need a whole team around them in order to make it big.
And even if they make it big, they have to pay thousands of dollars for flights to major tournaments and hotel rooms for themselves and their team.
(If you want to learn more about what tennis players have to pay, check out this article)
All players have to pay a lot of money to make it big, but when do tennis players reach the point where they can actually make profits?
There is no hard-line, but in general only players that reach the world’s top 200 are able to make a good living with tennis. And that doesn’t mean they get rich by playing tennis.
You might wonder, do tennis players make millions?
Prize money earned per year by players in the top 200 ranges from $8 million to $100,000. Only a select few players, the absolute top of the world, are able to make millions. In addition to the prize money, they make money from sponsorships and other deals.
So this means that most professional tennis players do not make as much money as people often think.
For instance, between positions 200 and 1000, players earned between $88,000 and $3,500 a year in prize money. This is prize money only, with no other income.
But you have to remember that the players also have considerable expenses, as they travel all over the world to participate in tournaments.
Plus, there are the expenses for coaches, equipment, accommodation, and physiotherapists.
As discussed before, it is hard to become rich by playing tennis. It is not impossible, though.
The most talented tennis players in the world can earn a lot of money and become rich.
Since tennis players don’t have a regular salary like most of us do, they need to get their money elsewhere.
Professional tennis players have several sources of income.
The source of income that is probably the least surprising is prize money. Most professional tournaments have a large sum of money set aside for prize money.
This money is not just for the winner of the tournament.
Usually, players will receive money for simply participating. Each round they win, their prize money gets increased.
While the tournament winner obviously gets the largest sum of money, players who only made it to the second or third round get paid as well.
Getting paid for simply playing is not rare to the absolute top players.
Another income source applicable to players who have made a big name for themselves is the appearance fee.
Sometimes a tournament wants to boost its popularity to attract better players or sell more tickets for spectators.
Therefore tournaments may offer famous players like Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic an appearance fee to make them more likely to come to play at their tournament.
Roger Federer receives the most significant appearance fees, which are around one million dollars.
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Serena Williams can also earn a lot of money with appearance fees.
Sponsorships are another great source of income for professional tennis players.
Brands will pay a player money. In return, the player has to show up in commercials, talk positively about the brand, and wear clothing or accessories from that brand.
When a brand like Nike sponsors a player, it can also take away some of the costs for tennis players since they will often be provided with clothing or shoes when they have to play a tournament.
Now you might be wondering, how much do tennis players make from sponsors?
This depends on the brand and the player. For example, Roger Federer’s sponsor deal with Uniqlo gets him 300 million dollars (264 million euros) over ten years. And this is not even his only sponsorship.
In comparison, Emma Raducanu, an up-and-coming player, has a sponsor deal with Nike.
This sponsorship is rumored to be worth 100.000 dollars (88.000 euros) on a year-to-year contract. However, her deal with Dior is worth around 2.6 million dollars (2.3 million euros).
Exhibition matches are a great way of generating income for both top 100 players and players ranked lower. These matches take place purely to entertain a crowd.
Usually, the crowd prefers famous players they know.
Therefore the top 100 players can earn more money by doing an exhibition match than lower-ranked players.
However, it is still possible for lesser-known players to earn money with exhibition matches.
But do tennis players still get paid if they lose?
The answer is yes. If a player agrees to an exhibition match, they will get paid regardless of the outcome.
There are several ways to earn bonuses for tennis players.
Sometimes, a contract with a brand for a sponsorship contains something about bonuses to stimulate the player to put more effort into promoting the brand.
The bonuses can also be given out by, for example, National Tennis Associations. The ATP Finals provide rewards for the top eight players of the season.
Club tennis, which is quite similar to the competitions anyone can join, is a popular way of making money for professional players who are not in the top 100.
These players often don’t get through the first or second round at major tournaments, which means the money they do get is not a huge amount.
By playing club tennis, they can make extra money. Players who are ranked higher sometimes compete in club tennis as well.
These leagues only take place a few months in the summer and can pay players up to $10,000 (€8,800) for participation.
Even though we already discussed prize money, the Challenger tours are something to put in the spotlight as well.
Challenger tournaments are mainly for players who want to earn as many points as possible to be able to enter ATP 250 tournaments, for example.
This means that players are usually ranked 100 to 500, giving them a better chance of making money than in major tournaments since the top tennis players do not participate.
The amount of money players get per tournament depends on the level of the tournament and the round they get to. The bigger the tournament and the further they come, the higher the prize money.
But there are also differences between tournaments of the same level.
For example, the Adelaide International, the New York Open, and the Mercedes Cup are all ATP 250 tournaments.
Still, the winner will get a cheque of $87.370 (€77.146) in Adelaide, $120.635 (€106.518) in New York, and a cheque of €53.280 (€47.045) in Stuttgart.
As you can see, prize money can vary from tournament to tournament, even if they are at the same level.
Prize money can change from year to year, but in 2021 the total prize money for the US Open was 57.462.000 dollars (50.738.084 euros).
Six million dollars (5.3 million euros) is set aside for the qualifying draw. The winner of the US Open got 1.250.000 dollars (1.103.731 euros).
The total prize money for Wimbledon 2021 was 47.5 million dollars (41.9 million euros).
This meant that players who lost the first round of the main draw could take home 65.179 dollars (57.552 euros), and players who lost the first round of qualifying earned 11.542 dollars (10.191 euros).
The winner of Wimbledon got a cheque of 2.308.430 dollars (2.038.309 euros).
The total prize money for the Australian Open in 2021 was 71.5 million dollars (63.1 million euros).
This meant that even players who lost in the first qualifying round took home 25.000 dollars (22.074 euros).
Players who lost the first round of the main draw earned 100.000 dollars (88.298 euros).
The winner of the Australian Open won 2.750.000 dollars (2.428.208 euros).
In 2021, the total amount of prize money for Roland Garros was 38.9 million dollars (34.3 million euros).
Players who didn’t make it through the first round of the main draw got a cheque of 67.951 dollars (60.000 euros).
Players who didn’t even make it into the main draw but lost the first qualifying round still got 11.325 dollars (10.000 euros).
The winner of the tournament won 1.585.530 dollars (1.400.000 euros).
Whether or not men and women should make the same amount of money has been discussed for several years, not just in tennis.
While many people believe that male and female tennis players should be paid equally, others believe that this is not necessary because the duration of male and female matches is not always equal.
Females play best of three in the most important professional tournaments while men play best of five.
An argument against separating pay based on this is that it is still possible that women play a three-set match and men do too.
Just as in most branches, in tennis, men earn more money than women.
However, the gap between the earnings of WTA players and ATP players is smaller than in any other sport.
In the 2021 Forbes list of highest-paid athletes in the world, only two women were featured. Those women were Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka, both tennis players.
So while male tennis players still make about 34 percent more money than female tennis players, tennis is doing a better job of equality than other sports.
Now that we have established that most tennis players aren’t rich, but the top can be pretty rich, it is time to discuss the richest tennis players in the world.
Roger Federer is a big name in tennis, one that every tennis fan knows. He is a very successful player with a net worth of 900 million dollars (794 million euros).
Federer became a professional tennis player in 1999 and is still active today.
He has won all of the Grand Slam tournaments at least once, and he has twenty Grand Slam titles in total.
Second, on this list is Novak Djokovic. This is another very successful tennis player that lives in Monaco, like many other tennis players.
With a net worth of 220 million dollars (194 million euros), he is doing pretty well for himself.
Djokovic has won about 119 million dollars (105 million euros) in prize money. Like Roger Federer, Djokovic has won all Grand Slam tournaments at least once.
In third place, we have a woman.
Serena Williams has been a big name in tennis for quite a while, and she is one of only two women on the 2021 Forbes list of best-paid athletes worldwide.
She has a net worth of 200 million (176 million euros). She earns about 10 to 20 million dollars (8.8 to 17.6 million euros) in sponsorships and endorsements every year.
Along with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal is part of what is referred to as The Big Three of tennis.
This makes it not very surprising to find him in the top 4 richest tennis players in the world. His net worth is 190 million dollars (167 million euros).
Next to a lot of prize money, he also makes a lot of money with sponsorships and endorsements.
In conclusion, it is very hard to make a living by playing tennis. The majority of tennis players aren’t rich, but the few that become the most successful can earn millions.
While prize money is an important source of income, sponsorships can bring in a lot of money as well.
Men do make more than women, but tennis is one of the best sports to play as a woman since the gaps between men and women are relatively small.
There is even a woman in the top four richest tennis players.