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