The Forbes’ list of World’s Highest Paid Athletes in 2021 has Rogers Federer perched at the number seven spot with an earning of a whopping $90 million. This was despite his absence from the sport for nearly all of the preceding 12 months because of injury. Four of the top 50 sportspersons in that list were tennis stars too, clearly underlining the amount of money there is in tennis. Question is why is that the case.
One look at the prize money for Wimbledon this year would give you a fair idea how rich the sport of tennis is. And this is just the pay check from playing in one tournament; there’s a lot of money involved through other modes as well, including sponsorships for players and coaching.
The high sums of money in tennis are not only about the ticket sales or TV adverts.
It is also about the high price for advertisements, the demand for it, the available market and of course the popularity of the sport and most importantly its quality.
The amount of money in tennis is directly connected with the popular appeal of this sport, its teams and players.
Take, for instance, the difference in the kind of prize money on offer in tennis as compared to some of the other racket sports. The discrepancy is humongous. The chart below will give you an idea about that difference.
Here’s why tennis has a lot of money associated with it (Although, and unfortunately, all tennis players aren’t rich from the sport).
Most Players are Independently Wealthy
It’s not surprising that nearly all tennis players come from wealthy families. After all, most aspiring professional athletes don’t have the luxury of quitting their day job to chase their dreams—and if they do, it’s because their parents are supporting them financially.
But tennis is different. First off, there’s a lot of money in the sport—a fact that may be obvious to anyone who has seen Rafael Nadal on TV or known Serena Williams by name since she was a wee child (she was actually born into privilege).
But unlike other sports like basketball or football that have lucrative contracts for athletes at every level of play (even the lowest ranked players can make more than six figures), tennis is an individual sport where success depends on your ability to perform well against other people who are just as good at what they do as you are.
You’re only paid if you win tournaments—that means every player has to pay for his/her own travel expenses and equipment; and even then, only some get coaching from professionals who charge thousands per hour for their services!
The Sheer Number of Tournaments
There are four Grand Slam tournaments every year, and they all take place in different parts of the world.
The Australian Open is held each January/February in Melbourne, Australia; the French Open takes place in Paris in May and June; Wimbledon is played out on grass courts at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in London from June through July; and finally there’s the US Open that takes place once again at Flushing Meadows (this time New York) from August through September.
All of these events attract huge crowds and prize money purses that put them among some of the richest sporting events anywhere in terms of prize money offered.
For example: in 2017, both Garbine Muguruza and Roger Federer won $2 million for winning their respective singles finals at Wimbledon (not including any endorsement deals).
There’s also an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event held annually (there are nine each year), three ATP World Tour 500 events per year (the same amount as the Masters), one ATP World Tour 250 event per month on average, plus Davis Cup ties between countries – so there’s always something happening!
It’s the Most Popular Individual Sport in the World
According to the International Tennis Federation, it’s the most popular individual sport in the world.
And though there are many major sports that can claim a broad fan base—including basketball and soccer—tennis has something that those other sports don’t: year-round activity.
If you’re playing basketball or soccer, you have to wait until fall before you can start playing again. But tennis season never ends; there are tournaments every month of the year (except December).
This makes tennis an ideal sport for people who want to get active during their leisure time but don’t want to commit long hours each day or week.
Almost Every Country Has a Tennis Association
There are 211 national and 6 regional associations that make up ITF’s membership.
These include the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the international governing body for the sport of tennis, with over 100 member nations worldwide for men’s and women’s singles, doubles and wheelchair tennis; this includes players who are active in professional tournaments, or who otherwise meet professional standards set by the ITF. Each member country pays an annual fee to be a part of the federation.
The ITF has also established a tiered system of competition where athletes can compete against other players at their own level based on ability; this is intended to assist those who wish to pursue tennis as a competitive sport outside their home countries.
Any athlete competing internationally must belong to one or another organization affiliated with it.
There Are Over 87 Million Tennis Players in the World
The number of professional tennis players has increased steadily over the last decade, with more than 3800 professionals currently on the ITF’s official list.
There are over 87 million people worldwide who play tennis, representing about 17% of all sports participants, and a billion people who follow the sport actively either as spectators or fans.
Professional tennis is one of the most lucrative sports in history and has a huge fan base around the world.
The ATP World Tour Finals is one of three prestigious events on tour (the other two being Wimbledon and Roland Garros), which makes it even more important for players to perform well there because it’s one last chance for them to prove themselves before heading into retirement or looking at another career path.
This kind of interest in the sport also brings in more people who want to spend money on it – whether it’s fellow fans or sponsors looking to woo those fans.
Final Words on Why Tennis Has So Much Money in It
As far as what draws the big money to tennis, there are several possible answers.
Tennis is popular around the globe and the number of people playing is higher than that of other popular professional sports. The schedules for tournaments allow for maximum viewership as matches take place across the globe during three of the four seasons in most countries.
The ITF has also made several recent changes to the rules, including shot clock at changeovers and coaching from the stands. These rule changes have helped storytelling during matches, which is certainly a plus for broadcasting networks.