Roger Federer, in the twilight of his career, has become the first tennis player to top Forbes’ athlete’s rich list. The Swiss tennis great, who has won a men’s record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, earned $106.3m (£86.3m) in the last 12 months, including $100m (£81.2m) via endorsements, to move up four places and become the first player from his sport to top the list.
He topped soccer players Cristiano Ronaldo (£85.3m), Messi (£84.5m) and Neymar (£77.6m) and American basketball player, LeBron James (£71.6m) in the top five.
According to Kurt Badenhausen, Senior Editor at Forbes said the coronavirus triggered salary cuts for Messi and Ronaldo paving the way for Federer to emerge top of the list.
“The coronavirus pandemic triggered salary cuts for soccer stars Messi and Ronaldo, clearing the way for a tennis player to rank as the world’s highest-paid athlete for the first time.
Roger Federer is the perfect pitchman for companies, resulting in an unparalleled endorsement portfolio of blue-chip brands worth $100m a year for the tennis great,” he said.
Basketball players led all sports with 35 players among the top 100. American football occupied 31 spots, none higher than six-times Super Bowl champion Tom Brady (£36.5m) who was ranked 25th.
Soccer was the next most-represented sport with 14 players, followed by tennis (six), boxing and mixed martial arts (five), golf (four), motor racing (three), and baseball and cricket with one each.
Japan’s Naomi Osaka (£30.7m), who was ranked 29th on the list, surpassed fellow tennis player Serena Williams (£29.5m) as the world’s highest-earning female athlete.
Osaka and Williams were the only women on the list.