Roger Federer is playing Halle in advance of defending his Wimbledon title. (Martin Meissner/AP)
No surprise here: Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova are the highest-paid tennis players in the world.
Forbes released its annual list of the 100 highest-paid athletes (based on prize money, endorsements and appearance fees earned between June 1, 2012, through June 1, 2013). Federer was No. 2 on the list (behind Tiger Woods), earning a whopping $71.5 million in the last year. Joining Federer on the list were Novak Djokovic, who came in at No. 28 ($26.9 million) and Rafael Nadal, who missed seven months of play but still ranked No. 30 ($26.4 million).
Meanwhile, only three women made the Forbes 100. They're all tennis players. Sharapova leads them at No. 22 ($29 million), followed by Serena Williams at No. 68 ($20.5 million) and Li Na at No. 85 ($18.2 million).
Federer, who makes about $45 million annually from his endorsements, earned more than $17 million more last year than the previous year thanks in large part to his three-city exhibition tour of South America in December, for which he got $14 million. He also signed a five-year deal with Moet & Chandon at the end of 2012 that is reportedly worth $6 million annually.
Sharapova made nearly $2 million more in the last 12 months compared to the year before, thanks to bonuses from Nike and Head for completing the career Grand Slam at the French Open, earnings from her new Sugarpova business and a slight increase in prize money and appearance fees.
As for the remaining four tennis players on the list, their places are driven by on-court success or endorsements. For example, Li pulls in $15 million of her $18.2 million on endorsements. That's more endorsement power than Djokovic ($14 million) and Williams ($12 million). So powerful is her brand that her agent, Max Eisenbud (who also represents Sharapova), was able to negotiate a deal with Nike to allow her to wear additional sponsor patches on her match kits, something the company rarely allows.
Similarly, Nadal, No. 16 in Forbes' 2012 list, missed three of the highest-paying tournaments in the last 12 months -- the U.S. Open, Australian Open and ATP World Tour Finals -- and earned just $5.4 million in prize money in the last year. But his endorsement portfolio is the third largest in tennis, behind that of Federer and Sharapova, earning $21 million annually.
Williams, who didn't make the list last year, moved ahead of Li in total earnings behind $8.5 million in prize money and appearance fees. In the last 12 months, Williams has won three of four majors and 11 titles in all, compiling a 74-3 record. Her status as the No. 2 woman on the list is full credit to her ability to win and less a statement on her endorsement portfolio, which earns her $12 million annually, almost half of Sharapova's $23 million.
From a tennis perspective, the most glaring absence from the list is Great Britain's Andy Murray. Hailing from a country that seems to be able to print money when it comes to tennis, Murray had a career year, won Olympic gold in London and finally won his first Slam, at the U.S. Open. But there hasn't been much of a blip in terms of significant new endorsements for Murray, who still has a long way to go in on-court accomplishments of those who made the list.
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