Roger Federer Ranked by Forbes as World's Highest-Paid Athlete

Publish date:

Roger Federer tops the list of the world's highest-paid athletes and is the first tennis player to hold the No. 1 spot on Forbes' annual earnings report in its 30-year history.

Federer moved up from No. 5 on last year's list to the top spot after earning $106.3 million pre-tax in the last 12 months. He raked in most of his money–$100 million–from endorsement deals. Federer edged past Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who have swapped the No. 1 spot in three of the past four years.

Ronaldo ($105 million), Messi ($104 million), Neymar ($95.5 million) and LeBron James ($88.2 million) round out the top five highest earners.

Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Tiger Woods were included in the top 10. The NBA has the most players on the list with 35, and the NFL followed close behind with 31. Only one MLB player–Clayton Kershaw–made the list.

Naomi Osaka, as reported last week, surpassed Serena Williams as the highest-paid female athlete. Osaka earned $37.4 million in the last 12 months from prize money and endorsements, setting an all-time earnings record for a female athlete in a single year. 

Osaka (No. 29) and Williams (No. 33) are the only two women on Forbes' list. It marks the first time two women have appeared in the top-100 in the same year since Williams and Maria Sharapova were included in 2016.

The world's 100 highest-paid athletes made $3.6 billion during the past year, which is nine percent below 2019's earnings.

"The global health crisis proves that when the economy fails, even the world's wealthiest athletes take a big hit," said Forbes senior editor Kurt Badenhausen. "Salaries and endorsement income have skyrocketed the past decade, but both are headed for precipitous falls, as revenues plummet for major sports leagues and companies tighten their marketing budgets."