Unlike athletes in other sports, tennis players are forced to make most of their money through endorsement deals.
According to data provided to The Sports Daily, tennis players depend on endorsement money more than athletes in any other sport.
While major titles have big prizes, most tennis players rely on sponsorships to make a living with 84 percent of their income stemming from endorsements.
Tennis Players Make More From Endorsements Than ATP or WTA Purses
Tennis is one of the only sports where players gain significantly more from their endorsements than their salary or winnings.
According to a recent report by Sportico, tennis players earn about 84 percent of their income from endorsements. That means only 16 percent of their earnings are coming from their winnings on ATP and WTA tours. Comparatively, golfers earn about 36% of their winnings from purses and 64% on various endorsement deals.
In 2022, the top 15 tennis players earned a total of $355 million, with $298 million earned from endorsements and $57 million won through tournaments.
Tennis Highest Paying Stars
Some tennis stars have dominated the ATP and WTA circuits over the years.
Roger Federer had one of his least active years during his career and was still listed eighth among the highest paid athletes in the world. Federer only earned $724,000 from his winning but cashed in a total of $85.7 million in 2022. Despite being on the brink of retirement, the Swiss tennis legend still earned nearly $85 million in endorsements.
Similarly, Serena Willams looked to say goodbye to the game and still had a very high paying year, earning $35.3 million with $35 million coming from endorsements.
Another highly endorsed athlete, Naomi Osaka made a total of $53.2 million in 2022 with $52 million coming from endorsements, despite playing a light schedule.
High Salaries Don’t Necessarily Lead To High Endorsements
Instead, baseball and hockey players earn most of their most from the salaries that they earn playing their respective sports.
Baseball players make about $509 million in salary but only pull in $32 million in endorsements. Similarly, hockey players fall in the same position with only $18 million in endorsements but $151 million in salaries.
For example, Bryce Harper, one of the MLB’s biggest stars signed a $330 million deal but earned an estimated $6 million in endorsements last season.