How Do Tennis Players Earn Money?

When Wimbledon comes round every year, pundits and the media often talk about the staggering amounts of prize money the players can win. Even if you make it into the first round as a qualifier, you receive a big pay day, which can be useful for players not ranked in the upper echelons of the game. Of course, the same thing happens at the other grand slam events, and to a lesser extent, at other tournaments on the ATP and WTA Tour.

So how do the players make money throughout the year?

Tennis players earn their income through prize money, endorsements with various sports, fashion and other companies, appearance fees and they may receive bonuses too. Obviously how popular a player is, and how high they are in the rankings determines how much they can earn. Let’s look at this in a lot more detail.

Do tennis players make a lot of money?

Although tennis players at the top of the game earn vast sums of money, lower down the rankings it’s a different story. In fact, tennis is one of the most unequal sports in terms of earnings. Players ranked between 200-2000 in the world don’t earn much. In fact around 80% of professional tennis players earn very little from the sport. However, players like Djokovic, Nadal, Williams and Federer can earn a lot from endorsements, as well as prize money.

How much do tennis players earn in a year?

For some of the higher ranked professional players inside the top 100, they can earn around $75,000-$125,000 per year, which seems a lot, but there are lots of costs, such as travel, accommodation and paying for coaches and trainers. However, this figure shoots up rapidly if they progress to the later stages of any ATP or WTA tournaments, and especially at the grand slams. For lower ranked players who have a good run at a tournament, it can make a big difference to their bank balance.

Here’s a chart showing how much the top professional players earned from endorsements and prize money in 2019/2020.

How much do tennis players make from sponsors?

Not only do the players at the top of the rankings make more in prize money, they’ll likely earn a substantial sum from sponsors and endorsements, particularly for the more popular players. For example, Roger Federer earns a colossal amount from sponsorships, far more than he actually earns in prize money.

Here’s some data on how much the top tennis players are worth based on sponsorship money alone (as of July 2019).

Unsurprisingly, Federer is way ahead of any other tennis player, but Nishikori is also high up in the list despite not achieving the same levels of success as Nadal, Djokovic or even Wawrinka. He has some lucrative deals with Nike, Jaguar, and some Japanese companies; he even has a jet named after him with Japan airlines!

Do tennis players get paid if they lose?

The prize money rapidly increases whether a player wins or loses as they progress through a tournament. For example, if a tennis player had lost in the first round of this year’s US Open, they would still have walked away with $61,000. Not bad for one tournament, and for most professional tennis players, this is a sizable amount of money.

Do they get paid for qualifying rounds?

For the grand slam events, players will get some money as they progress through the 3 qualifying rounds. If they win all three matches they can enter the main event. There are 128 slots available in all four grand slam events, but only 16 are available for the qualifiers. The other 12 slots are offered as wildcards. To be eligible to play in these qualifiers, players must be ranked between 105 and 232 in the world.

How much does it cost to be a professional tennis player?

While the likes of Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Williams earn a fortune playing tennis, they can easily afford substantial costs on travel, paying coaches and other staff, equipment and paying for an entourage. However, as you go down the rankings, these costs can easily eat into a tennis player’s earnings, leaving them with a lot less than you think.

For example, in 2010 the USTA estimated that for a highly competitive tennis player inside the top 50, the overall cost was $143,000 a year. In fact, this eye-watering amount is so high, that only players ranked inside the top 164 would have broken even or generated a profit in this year.

You might want to bear all this mind if you’re thinking of producing the next Serena Williams or Rafael Nadal when you give your son or daughter a tennis racket for their 5th birthday!

So where does this cost come from? Let’s break it down.

Travel

Travel is a huge drain on a tennis player’s income. Not only does it cost a lot, it can be tiring jet setting around the world entering lots of tournaments. There are plane tickets to buy for coaches, family members and hotel rooms to book. Travel costs can range between $50,000 and $150,000 a year.

Food

Tennis players and their entourage need to eat, and this can cost a lot too, between $5000 and $30,000 a year.

Paying coaches

Along with travel, paying coaches is a big drain on a tennis player’s income. It can cost upwards of $50,000 to hire a coach, plus there will be bonuses based on a player’s prize money earnings, and expenses on top of that.

Equipment

Although many tennis players receive tennis gear free through various endorsements with manufacturers, there are still costs in customizing the rackets and restringing. This can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000 a year.

Tennis prize money list in 2019-2020

Here is a chart showing the prize money list in the 2019-2020 season for players on the WTA and ATP Tour. As you can see, although Federer earns the most overall when you factor in endorsements, Nadal and Djokovic are the big earners here on the men’s side due to their grand slam successes. On the women’s side, Barty has had a great year, earning around $10 million in prize money.

Which is the highest prize money in a tennis tournament?

The grand slam events are the highest paying tournaments; Wimbledon, the US Open, the French Open and the Australian Open. The Nitto ATP finals event, which is a tournament for the best 8 players of the season, also has a large pot of money for the overall winner.

Total Prize Money (2019)

Here’s a breakdown of the total purse at all the grand slam events in 2019:

  • Wimbledon £38,000,000 ($50,228,400)
  • US Open $57,238,700
  • French Open €42,661,000 ($50,251,245)
  • Australian Open 62,500,000 AUD ($45,487,812)

Therefore, the US Open has the largest overall purse for a tennis tournament.

Winner’s Prize Money (2019)

  • Wimbledon £2,350,000 ($3,106,382)
  • US Open $3,850,000
  • French Open €2,300,000 ($2,708,675)
  • Australian Open 4,100,000 AUD ($2,984,390)
  • Nitto ATP Final $1,354,000

The US Open has the highest prize money for the overall winner in women’s and men’s singles.

Prize in each round (2019)

You can see from the tables below that if you’re a qualifier, the prize money very quickly increases as you move through the knockout rounds in the main event.

Wimbledon

  • Q1 – £7000
  • Q2 – £13,250
  • Q3 – £22,500
  • Round 1 (128 players) – £45,000
  • Round 2 (64 players) – £72,000
  • Round 3 (32 players) – £111,000
  • Round 4 (16 players) – £176,000
  • Quarter Final – £294,000
  • Semi Final – £588,000
  • Final – £1,175,000 (runner up)
  • Winner – £2,350,000

US Open

  • Q1 – $11,000
  • Q2 – $18,000
  • Q3 – $32,000
  • Round 1 (128 players) – $58,000
  • Round 2 (64 players) – $100,000
  • Round 3 (32 players) – $163,000
  • Round 4 (16 players) – $280,000
  • Quarter Final – $500,000
  • Semi Final – $960,000
  • Final – $1,900,000 (runner up)
  • Winner – $3,850,000

French Open

  • Q1 – €7000
  • Q2 – €12,250
  • Q3 – €24,000
  • Round 1 (128 players) – €46,000
  • Round 2 (64 players) – €87,000
  • Round 3 (32 players) – €143,000
  • Round 4 (16 players) – €243,000
  • Quarter Final – €415,000
  • Semi Final – €590,000
  • Final – €1,180,000 (runner up)
  • Winner – €2,300,000

Australian Open

  • Q1 – 15,000 AUD
  • Q2 – 25,000 AUD
  • Q3 – 40,000 AUD
  • Round 1 (128 players) – 75,000 AUD
  • Round 2 (64 players) – 105,000 AUD
  • Round 3 (32 players) – 155,000 AUD
  • Round 4 (16 players) – 260,000 AUD
  • Quarter Final – 460,000 AUD
  • Semi Final – 920,000 AUD
  • Final – 2,050,000 AUD (runner up)
  • Winner – £4,100,000 AUD

Which tennis player has earned the most prize money?

Novak Djokovic has earned the most career prize money in tennis. He has made around $145 million to date, and this figure doesn’t include any endorsements or sponsorships. So far he has won 17 grand slam titles, third to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, but many think he will surpass both of them in time.     

How much does Serena Williams make?

Serena Williams has a net worth of $200 million. This total includes prize money, endorsements and sponsorships. She has earned $93 million to date in terms of prize money, meaning she makes around $8 million a year on average throughout her career.

How much is Novak Djokovic worth?

Novak Djokovic is worth a staggering $220 million. A large chunk of this is due to prize money, which he leads in the all time list, but he still makes a fair amount from his sponsorship deals with Head and other sport companies.

How much does Roger Federer make from sponsors?

Although he doesn’t top the list in terms of career prize money, Roger Federer is by the far the biggest earner in the tennis world. He is worth a whopping $450 million. His prize money earnings are around $130 million but he earns huge sums from various endorsements with Wilson, Rolex, Uniqlo among others.

How much is Rafael Nadal worth?

Rafael Nadal is just behind Federer and Djokovic in his overall wealth, but he’s not doing too badly. His overall net worth is $180 million, including $120 million in career prize money, and he also receives endorsements from Nike, Babolat, Tommy Hilfiger, among others.

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