In 1990, Forbes began publishing its annual list of the highest-paid athletes in the world. On Friday, the publication announced that Roger Federer broke new ground—for himself and his sport—after the 20-time major champion out-earned every other athlete by pulling in $106.3 million over the past 12 months.
Federer, who ranked fifth in the 2019 edition, became the first tennis player to top the list thanks to lucrative sponsorships and appearance fees tallying $100 million, joining Tiger Woods as the only active athlete to achieve this in a single year. The 38-year-old’s endorsement portfolio features 13 brands that have paid out between $3 million and $30 million, with Rolex, Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz and Wilson remaining on board for over a decade.
“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,” said Kurt Badenhausen, Senior Editor of Forbes. “Roger Federer is the perfect pitchman for companies, resulting in an unparalleled endorsement portfolio of blue-chip brands worth $100 million a year for the tennis great.”
Federer’s highest previous Forbes ranking was No. 2 in 2013, when Woods added to his record 12 first-place rankings. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic came in at No. 23 on this year’s list, with $44.6 million ($32 million from endorsements and appearances), while Rafael Nadal ranked not far behind at No. 27 with $40 million ($26 million from endorsements and appearances). Kei Nishikori grabbed the No. 40 spot with $32.1 million ($31 million from endorsements and appearances).
Two-time major winner Naomi Osaka was previously reported last week to be the highest-paid female athlete ever thanks to her $37.4 million in earnings, surpassing 23-time major champion Serena Williams. The two are the only women on the top 100 list, as Osaka placed 29th ($34 million from endorsements and appearances) and Williams was 33rd at $36 million ($32 million from endorsements and appearances).