Federer debuts atop Forbes’ World’s Top 100 athletes rankings

Roger Federer and Naomi Osaka have put tennis at top of the Forbes’ Annual Ranking of the World’s 100 Highest-Paid Athletes. While Federer makes his maiden appearance on the top, Naomi Osaka has emerged the highest earning female athlete ever.

Federer’s ranking as No. 1 marks the first time that a tennis player has held the top spot since the list’s inception in 1990. Federer, who was ranked No. 5 on last year’s list, moved up in the ranks with $106.3 million in total earnings over the past 12 months, Forbes has stated in a Press release.

As previously reported, Naomi’s record-breaking $37.4 million in earnings, makes her the highest-paid female athlete ever. She surpasses Serena Williams, who previously held the title as the world’s highest-earning female athlete. Naomi’s lucrative deal with Nike, which paid her more than $10 million last year, is only one of the many deals she’s signed. The tennis player made the decision to represent Japan in the 2020 Summer Olympics, which has now been postponed until next year.

Olympic sponsors like Procter & Gamble, All Nippon Airways and Nissin, have all penned deals with the rising star.

Naomi (overall No. 29) and Serena (overall 33rd ) are the only women featured on this year’s ranking. It is the highest female representation on the list since 2016 when Williams and Maria Sharapova both qualified. Williams was the lone female star to join the ranking in 2017 and 2019, while there were no women who made the cut in 2018.

“The coronavirus pandemic triggered salary cuts for soccer stars (Lionel) Messi and (Cristiano) 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, 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.”

Cristiano Ronaldo, with $105 million in earnings, remains in the No. 2 spot on Forbes’ highest-earning athletes list, followed by Lionel Messi (No.3), who held the No. 1 spot in 2019. Rounding out the top five highest earning athletes are Neymar (No. 4) and LeBron James (No. 5), who earned $95.5 million and $88.2 million respectively.

India’s national cricket team captain Virat Kohli has moved up from the 100th to the 66th position.

Also read: Kohli sole Indian, cricketer in Forbes’ top 100 athletes

Collectively, the 100 highest-paid athletes earned $3.6 billion during the past year, a 9% decline from the prior 12 months. The $21.8 million cutoff is down from $25 million in 2019.

“The global health crisis proves that when the economy fails, even the world’s wealthiest athletes take a big hit,” said Badenhausen, Senior Editor, Forbes. “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.”

Athletes hailing from 21 countries and ten different sports made the final cut. Forbes’ earnings figures include prize money, salaries, bonuses, endorsements, royalties and appearance fees earned between June 1, 2019 and June 1, 2020.


RANK NAME / Sport Discipline EARNINGS
1 Roger Federer $ 106.30 mn
2 Cristiano Ronaldo     $ 105 mn
3 Lionel Messi $ 104 mn
4 Neymar Jr $ 95.5 mn
5 LeBron James $ 88.2 mn
6 Stephen Curry $ 74.4 mn
7 Kevin Durrant $ 63.9 mn
8 Tiger Woods $ 62.3 mn
9 Kirk Cousins $ 60.5 mn
10 Carson Wentz $ 59.1 mn

CLICK HERE for the complete list.

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