Total prize money at this year’s U.S. Open will be a record $25.5 million with the men’s and women’s champions collecting $1.9 million apiece. But the real action is off the court, where elite tennis players jockey for multimillion dollar endorsement deals and lucrative exhibition fees.
Younger rivals Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have challenged Roger Federer on the court in recent years, but no one touches the Swiss maestro off it when it comes to earnings power. Federer is the highest-paid tennis player in the world with earnings of $54.3 million between July 2011 and July 2012.
Federer earned $9.3 million in prize money and an estimated $45 million from sponsors, exhibitions and appearance fees over the past 12-months. His ace sponsor roster includes Credit Suisse, Gillette, Mercedes-Benz, Rolex and more. Federer’s biggest deal is with Nike, which pays him more than $10 million annually.
Companies gravitate to Federer because of his incredible consistency. He appeared in 18 out of 19 Grand Slam finals between 2005 and 2010, including 10 straight at one point. Federer extended his record for Grand Slam championships in July at Wimbledon with his 17th overall title. The win elevated him to the No. 1 ranking in the world, and he broke the record for most weeks at the top of the rankings. Pete Sampras held the old mark at 286 weeks.
Federer also commands the biggest fees at more than $1 million per event for exhibitions and tournament appearances outside the U.S. He is heading to South America for the first time in December for a series of five exhibitions that will be one of his biggest paydays to date.
Color illustration by Steven White, Author and illustrator of "Bring Your Racquet"