He may be approaching the twilight of his career, but Roger Federer’s earning power shows no signs of slowing down and he has just become world number One, although not for tennis this time.
That is because, according to the latest Forbes list, Federer was the highest paid athlete in the world, for the period 1st June 2019 to 1st June 2020, dethroning Lionel Messi from top spot. The 38 year old Swiss multi-Grand Slam winner earned US $106.3 million in that period from prize money and endorsements, becoming the first tennis player to top these particular rankings.
Messi had to be content with US $104 million and third place, with his big rival on the pitch Cristiano Ronaldo also overtaking him with earnings of US $105 million. The top five are rounded out by another footballer, Brazilian Neymar who plays for PSG, and American basketball star, Lebron James (US $88.2 million).
The editors of the list have provided a small caveat though, pointing out that, had Ronaldo and Messi not had to take salary cuts agreed with their clubs because of the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, their earnings would still have put them ahead of Federer.
In the 12 months just about to end, Federer earned US $100 million in endorsements alone, with a host of high profile brands associated with him, including Credit Suisse, Rolex, Wilson, Mercedes-Benz and Mot & Chandon. Meanwhile, his ten year apparel deal with Japanese clothing manufacturer Uniqlo, is one of the richest in sport.
Proving that, when it comes to earning the serious money, it remains a mans world, the only two women on the list were both tennis players, Naomi Osaka, who was ranked 29th, having earned US $37.4 million, and Serena Williams, four places below her with US $36 million.
In terms of representation by sport, basketball players featured most often with 35 players making the list, followed by American football with 31 names featuring, headed by six-time Superbowl champion Tom Brady, another man at the wrong end of his career as a player.
Soccer (football) players came third, followed by tennis, boxing and Mixed Martial Arts.
The only cricketer and only Indian to make the list was test and ODI captain Virat Kohli, who was in 66th place, with earnings of US $26 million.