Roger Federer still the boss as Serena Williams £41m behind fellow tennis icon
Roger Federer is still the highest-paid athlete from the world of tennis in spite of his retirement at the end of last year, with the Swiss icon having earned considerably more than the likes of Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal over the last 12 months. Federer has not played competitively since bidding farewell to the professional game at the Laver Cup last winter, while Williams retired from tennis after the end of her US Open campaign back in August.
Federer’s inactivity does not appear to have negatively affected his income, though, with the 41-year-old still flying high near the top of Forbes‘ list of the world’s highest-paid athletes in 2023. He is ninth overall but is the top-ranked tennis player after scooping £76.5million over the last year, putting him above the likes of Neymar, Tiger Woods and Lewis Hamilton in the pecking order.
Williams, meanwhile, is the only other tennis representative in the top 50 but remains some way adrift of Federer in terms of her earnings over the last 12 months. The Michigan native pocketed just over £35m throughout the course of the year, which marks less than half of Federer’s total figure over the same length of time.
There is no place on the list for the likes of Nadal, who recently withdrew from the upcoming French Open due to a long-term hip injury, or Novak Djokovic in spite of the latter’s impressive on-court exploits in recent months. Rising star Carlos Alcaraz also misses out despite winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open last year, as does Emma Raducanu after suffering with a range of injury problems since her maiden triumph at Flushing Meadows back in 2021.
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It seems as though Federer will continue to earn plenty of money as he embarks on his post-playing career, with the Swiss legend still very much among the sport’s biggest marketing giants in spite of his retirement. Former Nike tennis director Mike Nakajima, who first met Federer when the latter was still a teenage prospect, recently explained that his highly personable nature has played an important role in helping him to secure a vast array of lucrative brand deals over the years.
“He has great marketability,” Nakajima told CNN. “I saw him speak four languages in a single interview and switch languages just like that. People tend to gravitate towards somebody willing to share himself and be unbashful. He’s able to appeal to any audience and people believe that he’s saying the truth, whatever Roger pitches, he’s that believable.
“I’ve had the privilege to meet so many world-class athletes. He’s one of the top on my list, with regards to Roger, the game changer, to how nice of a person he is. Yes, he’s got a lot more money and a lot more of everything, but he hasn’t changed.
“Money and fame change people a lot. I’m not going to name names, but we certainly have athletes in our sport that have changed. Money changed how they see things, act and talk to people. Roger never did that.”
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