Roger Federer tops Forbes’ Athletes Rich List for the first time


Roger Federer becomes first tennis player EVER to top Forbes’ Athletes Rich List after raking in yearly earnings worth £86m as 38-year-old edges out Lionel Messi, LeBron James and Tyson Fury

  • Forbes have released their list of the top-50 paid athletes in the world of sport
  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and LeBron James all earn spots in the top 10
  • Tennis player Naomi Osaka is the highest ranked female, ranking in at No 29 
  • Her tennis counterpart Roger Federer tops the standings with $106.3m earnings 

Roger Federer has been crowned No 1 on Forbes’ Highest Paid Athletes list for the first time in his career. 

The Swiss tennis icon has held off competition from Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar and LeBron James to take top spot with pre-tax earnings in 2020 of $106.3million (£85.9m).

Federer, who has won 20 Grand Slam titles to date which is the most of any male player in the tennis Open era, has amassed such a profile that he generated $100m (£80.7m) in endorsements alone.   

Roger Federer has been crowned as the highest earning athlete in the world by Forbes

Cristiano Ronaldo waived four months of his salary as part of the reductions due to the coronavirus pandemic

Lionel Messi has traded top spot for years with Ronaldo but Barcelona's squad accepted wage cuts of 70 oper cent back in March

Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Lionel Messi (right) shared top spot in three of the last four years

Interestingly, Forbes’ research found that the top 100 highest-paid athletes earned a combined figure of $3.6billion in the last year.

While that is a staggering figure, it is nine per cent below what was reported in 2019 and represents the first decline in earnings since 2016.

The 38-year-old Swiss is just the ninth athlete to take top sport since it was first done in 1990. He is the first tennis player in those 30 years to finish No 1, too. 

Federer topping the pile is significant given that Ronaldo, who finished second, and Messi, who finished third, have traded the No 1 position in three of the last four years the list was compiled.  

British heavyweight Tyson Fury (left) had a lucrative year after beating Deontay Wilder (right)

British heavyweight Tyson Fury (left) had a lucrative year after beating Deontay Wilder (right)

Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton ranks 13th on the overall list, behind Fury

Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton ranks 13th on the overall list, behind Fury

But the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and major pay-cuts at both of their clubs, have seen their overall earnings take a hit, resulting in them conceding first place. 

Ronaldo and Messi combined for total pre-tax earnings of $209m (£169m) in the last 12 months, a $28m (£22.6m) drop from the year before. 

Messi announced in March that Barcelona’s players took a 70 per cent pay cut to help the club get through the pandemic. 

Ronaldo and his Juventus team-mates waived four months wages in a bid to do their part, a move which is believed to save the Italian champions €90m (£81m).  

WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is the highest earning British athlete, according to the list, narrowly edging out Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, who ranks 13th, two places below Fury.

Fury has returned to the top of the sport of boxing and now holds one of the prestigious heavyweight belts having beaten Deontay Wilder, who ranks 20th on the list, in February by knockout to take the prize belt.

Anthony Joshua finished in 19th position having had yearly earnings of $47million (£38m)

 Anthony Joshua finished in 19th position having had yearly earnings of $47million (£38m) 

LeBron James leads the NBA players with the league the most represented in this Forbes list

LeBron James leads the NBA players with the league the most represented in this Forbes list

Fury’s breakdown shows $50m in winnings and salary with $7m of his pre-tax yearly earnings from endorsement deals. His total puts the heavyweight $3m ahead of Hamilton. 

In terms of other athletes from the UK and Ireland, Rory McIlroy (14th), Conor McGregor (16th) and Anthony Joshua (19th) all feature inside the top 20.   

No sport has more representatives on the list than the National Basketball League and LeBron, the face of the NBA, comes in at No 5 as the highest-ranked basketball star. The Los Angeles Lakers star is reported to have earned $60m in endorsements in the last 12 months on top of his $28.2m salary in California.    

While Federer took top sport in a landmark moment for tennis, Naomi Osaka is another boost for the sport as she was crowned as the highest-earning female athlete in the world. 

The Japanese WTA Tour player surpassed Serena Williams as the world’s highest-paid female athlete, raking in $37.4million (£30.1m) in prize money and endorsements over the last year. Osaka earned $1.4m (£1.1m) more than American great Williams who had topped the list for the last four years.

Liverpool attacker Mohamed Salah, Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba earn spots inside the top 50 but the list is largely populated by individual sports or American sports such as the NBA and NFL (National Football League). 

Japan's Naomi Osaka made £30.7m in prize money and endorsements over the past 12 months

 Japan’s Naomi Osaka made £30.7m in prize money and endorsements over the past 12 months

Manchester United's Paul Pogba is one of only three players to earn spots inside the Top 50

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba is one of only three players to earn spots inside the Top 50

Lionel Messi and Lewis Hamilton share Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award


Lionel Messi and Lewis Hamilton share Laureus World Sportsman of the Year as Simone Biles is crowed Sportswoman of the Year

  • Lionel Messi and Lewis Hamilton pipped the likes of Tiger Woods and Rafa Nadal
  • Messi and Hamilton tied for first place in voting by the former sports greats
  • Messi, who was not at the event, won his sixth Ballon d’Or trophy last year
  • Whilst British star Hamilton was crowned F1 world champion for the sixth time

Lionel Messi and Lewis Hamilton shared the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award on Monday night.

The pair pipped Tiger Woods, Rafael Nadal, Marc Marquez and Eliud Kipchoge for the honour. 

Messi and Hamilton tied for first place in voting by the former sports greats who make up the members of the Laureus Academy.  

Lewis Hamilton shared the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award with Lionel Messi

Hamilton was given the award by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the night

Hamilton was given the award by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the night

Hamilton was given the award by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the night

Messi, who was not at the event, thanked his voters via a video link during the event

Messi, who was not at the event, thanked his voters via a video link during the event

Messi, who was not at the event, thanked his voters via a video link during the event

Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast in history, was named Sportswoman of the Year

Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast in history, was named Sportswoman of the Year

Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast in history, was named Sportswoman of the Year

Hamilton, who was given the award by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, said: ‘It’s all of our responsibility to use our platform for really pushing for gender equality, inclusivity and making sure that we are engaging and trying to represent where the world is today.’ 

Messi, who was not at the event, won his sixth Ballon d’Or last year as Barcelona won La Liga for the 26th time. 

Whilst Hamilton was crowned F1 world champion for the sixth time in a tremendous year for the British star. 

Messi who was not at the event said: ‘I apologise I was not able to come to the event tonight. I really wanted to be there for every but unfortunately I could not make it.

Hamilton pictured back stage with the Laureus Sportsman of the Year trophy

Hamilton pictured back stage with the Laureus Sportsman of the Year trophy

Hamilton pictured back stage with the Laureus Sportsman of the Year trophy

‘I would like to thank the Academy for giving me this recognition.

The truth is that this is a very special award and I am honoured to be the first to win this from a team sport. Thank you very much. ‘

Simone Biles, who helped the US to win a fifth straight gymnast team title and became the most decorated gymnast in World Championship history with 25 medals – 19 gold, 3 silver, 3 bronze, was crowned Sportswoman of the Year. 

South Africa won the Team of the Year award having defeated Eddie Jones’ England in the Rugby World Cup final.  

Also on the night, the Spanish basketball federation won the Exceptional Achievement award. 

Snowboarder Chloe Kim won the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year for a second time. 

American cross-country skier Oksana Masters was crowned World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability.