Federer on Forbes highest-paid athletes list; Serena, Sharapova absent

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Roger Federer will be returning to the court for the grass season. (AP)

Roger Federer is the seventh-highest paid athlete in sports, according to Forbes, while Serena Williams' recent inactivity meant no women are featured among the Top 100 top-earning athletes.

Federer earned a stated $77.2 million during the previous year, with his $65 million in sponsorship income the most of any athlete in the annual compilation. Having recently won his 20th major, Federer added to both his on-and off-court earnings to stay the highest-paid tennis player. He was in fourth position in 2017, but dropped as other athletes saw a bigger increase in earnings. 

The highest-paid athlete was boxing's Floyd Mayweather, who earned $275 million, and second and third were soccer players Lionel Messi with $111 million and Christiano Ronaldo with $108 million.

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The second-highest tennis player was No. 20 Rafael Nadal, with a little more than $41 million, followed by No. 35 Kei Nishikori with $34.6 million and No. 86 Novak Djokovic with $23.5 million. Both Nishikori and Djokovic were injured for substantial portions of 2017, which limited their on-court income to $1.5-1.6 million each and affected their rankings, to which sponsor payments are frequently tied.

Serena Williams, who has been a regular in the Top 100, did not play for most of 2017 to have her first child. Though she still earned around $18 million, largely in sponsorship, she was not among the Top 100 athletes. Neither was another familiar name, Maria Sharapova, who returned in 2017 from an anti-doping suspension but did not climb very far back up either the WTA rankings or the highest-paid athletes.

That meant there were no female athletes in the Forbes compilation for the first time. In 2017, there were no female athletes except Williams, and frequently just Williams and Sharapova before that.

Andy Murray, off with injury for most of the previous year, also fell off, giving tennis an unusually low representation on the list.


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