Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer has topped Forbes' list of the world's highest-paid athletes for the first time in his career. In the latest list for 2020, Federer captured the No. 1 position with pre-tax earnings of $106.3 million.
With this achievement, the World Number 4 has also become the first tennis player ever to top the annual list of highest-paid athletes. His ascent was partly made possible by the fact that all major sports have been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic - the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have seen massive salary cuts lately.
However, that doesn't take anyway away from Federer's staggering worldwide popularity.
According to Forbes, Roger Federer earned $6.3 million in prize money during the year, and a mind-boggling $100 million from endorsements and appearance fees. The mammoth haul from his off-court activities has helped the Swiss jump four spots in the list; he was ranked 5th in the 2019 list.
Roger Federer is just the second athlete ever, after Tiger Woods, to get to $100 million in endorsement earnings alone.
Roger Federer's association with different brands
Thanks to his incredible achievements on the tennis court, Roger Federer is one of the most sought after brand ambassadors in the sports world.
The Swiss is currently associated with 13 different brands, including Italian multinational food company Barilla, France-based winery Moet & Chandon, and high-end luggage manufacturer Rimowa. He receives an amount between $3 million and $30 million for representing these companies.
Roger Federer also endorses Gillette, the American brand manufacturing safety razors and other personal care products. In addition, the 20-time Slam champion has been promoting tennis equipment manufacturing firm Wilson, car giant Mercedes-Benz, Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Rolex and financial services company Credit Suisse for over a decade.
Federer endorsed sneaker giant Nike for the better part of his career, but has recently partnered with Swiss startup 'On'. Even such a radical move at this stage of his career has only helped Federer increase his earnings.
David Carter, who is a sports business professor at USC Marshall School of Business, stated:
“Roger Federer's brand is pristine, which is why those that can afford to align with him, clamor to do so.”
In 2018, Uniqlo offered Federer a lucrative deal worth $300 million to move away from Nike. As per the contract, he would be representing the Japanese casual wear manufacturer for 10 years, irrespective of whether he was active on the court or not.
John Jay, the head of Uniqlo, made the following remark after signing the long-term deal with Roger Federer just ahead of the Swiss' 37th birthday - an age many considered too high for such a long-term deal:
"We feel the greatest impact of Roger Federer is yet to come. Of course, it will be fueled by his status as the greatest of all time, but Roger's ability to bring positive change to the world is his future and ours."
Roger Federer has also started a tennis agency Team8 along with his agent Tony Godsick, which has further added to his earnings. The likes of Juan Martin del Potro, Coco Gauff and Alexander Zverev are the clients of the agency.
Forbes reports that Federer charges more than $1 million to take part in small tennis tournaments. He made more than $15 million in November 2019 through his Latin America tour, which also featured a match against Alexander Zverev in front of a record crowd in Mexico City.
The 38-year-old has used a significant chunk of his earnings for charity purposes. He donated $52 million to educate 1.5 million African kids, while he and his wife Mirka recently pledged to contribute $1 million for COVID-19 relief.
In 2020 alone, the Swiss player has donated over $5 million to a host of good causes.
Many believe Roger Federer is not only the greatest tennis player of all time, but also one of the biggest sporting stars the world has ever seen. This latest ranking by Forbes further reinforces that idea.