When it comes to earning from professional sport, it’s not all about prize money from actual tournaments. The biggest stars in any game will always provide an attraction for big companies looking to promote their brands.
In the case of some tennis players, sponsorship deals and endorsements can eventually dwarf their income from the court. Here are the men and women earning the most revenue from those sponsorships.
Life at the top
Despite retiring from professional tennis in 2022, Roger Federer remains the player with the highest earnings from external sponsorships and endorsements. The Swiss star may slide down that list from 2023 onwards, and he has plenty of competition below him.
Naomi Osaka is the highest earning female star and she sits in second place overall. Behind the top two are Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Four of the top five remain active in the game. While their individual sponsorship deals are significant, it’s success on the court that leads to interest from the major brands.
Osaka, Williams, Nadal and Djokovic all feature highly in tennis online betting markets as and when they appear. That’s a good measure of their quality and it should see them build on their current sponsorship income.
Tennis stars: Revenue broken down
Those are the top five earners as 2022 draws to a close, but exactly how much can a tennis player earn from sponsorship contracts? It’s reported that Roger Federer earned a total of $90 million in 2022. He was largely dormant across the year, so the majority of those earnings will have come from sponsors’ deals.
Federer has arrangements with some top global brands including Rolex, Credit Suisse and Uniqlo.
In second place on tennis’ rich list, Naomi Osaka earned annual revenue of $56.2 million. It was a quiet period on court for the American and it’s stated that just $1.2 million of that income came from tournament play.
That leaves a staggering figure of $55 million from off-court activities, some of which is drawn from contracts with Walmart and others.
It’s a similar situation for Serena Williams while, in the case of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, they remain far more active on court. Even so, each player in the top five earns far more from endorsements than they do from actually playing tennis.
Novak Djokovic retains the highest playing income, but he has made over $20 million in sponsorships as opposed to $7 million from tennis. The brands continue to flock to the big names, with Lacoste, Asics, Nike and Porsche among the many companies associated with these top players.
Image: Rafael Nadal, Source: Richard Mille
Rising tennis stars
One player who looks set to break into the top five in 2023 is Emma Raducanu. After making a breakthrough at Wimbledon in 2021, she closed out the Grand Slam year with a stunning victory in the US Open.
It was the first win for a British woman at a Grand Slam since 1977 and it ensured that Raducanu would be hot property from that moment onwards. Since that point, she has struggled with injuries and form but, as we have seen, that’s not necessarily a barrier to high earnings.
At the age of just 19, the British player earned $3.1 million on the court in 2022. She adds around $18 million to that revenue by way of endorsements. Porsche, Tiffany, Vodafone, HSBC and British Airways are among those flocking for Emma Raducanu to become the face of their brands.
On the men’s side, Daniil Medvedev is the closest to breaking into the Top Five. His on-court earnings in 2022 were impressive with over $7 million generated via tournaments, while an additional $12 million came in sponsorship earnings. Further back are Kei Nishikori, Venus Williams and Spain’s rising star Carlos Alcaraz.
Image: Source: Rolex, Australian Open 2023
The role of sponsorship in sport
Companies sponsor sports teams, individuals and divisions for a number of reasons. In some cases, they may actually look to give something back by providing a boost to the game at grass roots level.
In many other instances, it’s all about raising a profile by aligning a brand with the biggest stars in that particular sport. That’s why we’re seeing the best tennis players associated with luxury producers such as Rolex, Tiffany and Porsche.
This type of association comes at big cost and that’s why some of these earnings enter the stratosphere.
Sports stars can also add their names to new and existing brands. Naomi Osaka has her own range of skincare products while Rafael Nadal is an investor in a Beverly Hills restaurant.
With the potential for extra income via personal appearances and the sales of memorabilia, it’s no surprise that many off court earnings exceed that of tournament play. The route to the top is tough, but it’s a very lucrative ride at the end.
Top image: Rolex