Cover (Image: John Thys/AFP)

The Swiss athlete is the first tennis player to garner the number 1 spot

Swiss tennis star Roger Federer is officially the highest-paid athlete of the year, with an estimated total pre-tax earnings of US$106 million in the past twelve months.

The tennis player beat out both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who have respectively held the number one spot three of the past four years. The two football players earned a combined US$209 million—which is a US$28 million drop from the previous year, mainly because of salary reductions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Federer managed to edge past both Ronaldo and Messi largely due to the “best endorsement portfolio in the world of sports” according to Forbes. The tennis player earned approximately US$100 million from his endorsement deals with Mercedes-Benz, Uniqlo, Credit Suisse, and ten other brands, which allowed him to jump from fifth place to the top spot in just one year.

It’s also the first time that two women have made the ranks since 2016; 22-year-old Naomi Osaka earned US$3.4 million in tournament pay and US$34 million from brand endorsements while Serena Williams earned US$4 million in tournaments and US$32 million in endorsements.

Interestingly, NFL players had the best year in the group despite the fact that more NBA players make the list than any other sport. This is largely due to the NFL season’s late-summer start, which remained unaffected by Covid-19. MLB players took the biggest hit following the postponement of the season in March.

According to Forbes, the total earnings of the 100 top earners (US$3.6 billion), which includes athletes from over 21 countries across ten different sports, was down by 9 per cent year over year, which is the first decline since 2016, when Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao had skewed the numbers with their US$400 million pay-per-view “Fight of the Century” payout.

The earnings downturn is likely to extend for another ranking season before picking back up as Nascar and German football are the only sports leagues to pick back up after the pandemic thus far. 

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.