9 Highest-Paid Tennis Players of 2011
As we get closer to the U.S. Open finals, the grande finale of the 2011 tennis season, we here at Total Pro Sport thought it would be fun to have a look at who the world’s highest-paid tennis players. As you probably realize, the athletes getting the most money aren’t always the ones playing the best at the moment, which is bad news for indomitable tennis funny man Novak Djokovic but good news for guys like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. But don’t you go worrying about poor Novak. The world #1 did okay for himself this year and definitely will be able to pay next month’s phone bill.
Anyway, here’s a rundown of the top 9 earners from the world of tennis over the past 12 months. The people on the list probably won’t surprise you (if you follow tennis), but the order in which they appear just might.
9. Kim Clijsters
Clijsters may #3 among women in the world tennis rankings, but she’s currently #4 in earnings over the last 12 months. The 28-year-old had to pull out of the 2011 U.S. Open, so at the end of the calendar year she may slip a little further down the list, but so far she’s raked in $11 million in winnings and endorsement money. That’s pretty good for someone who retired in 2007 (at the age of 24), sat out two years, and came back in 2009. (I retired from writing 3 years ago, sat out for two years, and have made about $6,700 since returning.)
8. Venus Williams
Venus Williams is 31-years-old. In women’s tennis years, that’s about 93. Yet even at her “advanced age” and low rank (currently she’s #36)—and despite the fact that she’s played fewer than 15 matches all year—the former world #1 and seven-time grand slam winner can still pull in the bucks. Thanks to her endorsement deals with Wilson, EA, Kraft, Ralph Lauren, and Tide, Venus has netted $11.5 million since last September.
7. Caroline Wozniacki
Our third straight woman on the list, beautiful Belgian Caroline Wozniacki is currently ranked #1 in the world. But that don’t mean the 21-year-old is the top earning woman in the sport. No, that title currently belongs to someone else. Fortunately, Caroline still has the $12.5 million she’s earned in the last year to comfort her. She compiled that mound of dough by playing great tennis and negotiating fantastic incentive-driven endorsement deals with racket-maker Yonex and clothing giant Adidas.
6. Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick, 28, used to date American sweetheart Mandy Moore. Then she dumped him and married alt-rocker Ryan Adams. But Roddick should take heart, because he’s got one thing Adams does not: a ginormous…yearly income. Well, Ryan Adams’ income is probably pretty good too, but I seriously doubt the niche musical performer made $13 million last year like Roddick. Even though old Andy is only ranked #21 in the world right now, he’s got sweet deals with high-end brands like Lacoste and SAP to keep him afloat financially.
5. Andy Murray
Andy Murray is the fourth-best men’s tennis player at the moment, as well as the fourth highest-paid player on the men’s side. Still, on this list, the 24-year-old Brit weighs in at #5 thanks to a certain blonde bombshell. But to be honest, I wouldn’t have thought he would even be that high. Yes, he’s played some pretty great tennis of late, and yes, he gets about $4 million a year from Adidas. But why? The man has yet to win a grand slam tournament, and has only made the finals of a grand slam three times. Until he breaks through, he definitely has no business making any more than he has this year—$13.5 million.
4. Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic has earned a cool $18 million over the last 12 months, so the guy isn’t strapped for cash. Still, in a perfect world, you’d like to see a guy who’s been so dominant and so likable come in at #1 on a list like this. Then again, if things keep going the way they are (coming into the U.S. Open Novak was 57-2 this year), it won’t be long before the 24-year-old becomes the richest tennis player in the world.
3. Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova is a fantastic tennis player. She’s won 3 of the 4 grand slam events, has been ranked as high as #1 in the past, and is currently #4 again after working her way back from injuries. So it’s clear she has earned a lot of her money through playing tennis. It’s also clear that there is no way she could have made $25 million in the last year simply by playing tennis. Being really hot helps. A lot.
2. Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal has been so freaking good over the last 6 seasons that it’s almost impossible to believe the man is only 25. But hey, the internets don’t lie. Anyway, by winning the U.S. Open last year, he became the youngest player ever to achieve the career Grand Slam (and only the 7th overall). Oh, and that brought his grand slam win total up to an impressive 10—truly elite territory. Hell, six of those are French Open titles. That’s dominance, folks. So if anybody deserves to have made $31 million last year, it’s Rafa.
1. Roger Federer
Roger Federer is probably the greatest tennis player who ever lived. He seems like kind of a prick, but you can’t deny his achievements: 16 grand slams titles, a career Grand Slam (like Pistol Pete Samprass, Roger has had trouble on clay over the years, but he managed to get over the hump in 2009), and $64 million earned in winnings alone. But obviously Roger doesn’t sit at the top of this list because of that $64 million. Nope, the 30-year-old (90 in tennis years) Swiss superstar earns the majority of his cash through endorsements. That’s how he cleared $47 million last year.