To the average fan, the lifestyles of tennis greats like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic may seem glamorous. While they no doubt make a lot of money now, few consider the financial burden they must undertake to make it at that level. Here’s a breakdown of what it costs to play pro tennis.
What do the top tennis players make per year?
Being a tennis star is certainly lucrative. This is especially true for players like Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer but can apply to lesser-known players, as well. Below are the 2019 singles earnings for the top 10 players on the ATP tour (as of October 7, 2019):
- Rafael Nadal, $11,926,883
- Novak Djokovik, $9,881,961
- Roger Federer, $6,325,783
- Daniil Medvedev, $5,566,701
- Dominic Thiem, $5,204,877
- Stefanos Tsitsipas, $3,628,167
- Fabio Fognini, $2,402,615
- Roberto Bautista Agut, $2,374,314
- Alexander Zverev, $2,364,707
- David Goffin, $2,316,909
Clearly, it’s a great way to earn a living. But then there’s the saying “You have to spend money to make money.” These figures represent the world’s top men’s players and the return on their investments. But these tennis pros must also spend their fair share to ensure they get to this level.
The elements of a pro tennis player’s lifestyle
In order to better understand what it costs to play pro tennis, consider all the elements of a professional tennis player’s budget. There may be more than you realize.
To become the best, it helps to be trained by the best. The greatest tennis players in the world typically have coaches. These trainers are on-call to consult their clients in between as well as during tournaments.
For just a sample of the travel required to play tennis at a high level, consider the distances between these Grand Slam events: the U.S. Open (New York), French Open (Roland Garros), Wimbledon (Great Britain) and the Australian Open (Melbourne). Getting to and from those events isn’t cheap.
Being a top tennis player means having clothing and equipment (i.e. rackets) tailored to your specific needs and desires.
Top-flight tennis players may have entourages full of hangers-on who do odd jobs for the pros. These can be old friends or people with specific roles like public relations. Not only do these people require payment, but players must cover many of their traveling expenses, too.
What does it cost to play pro tennis?
In 2018, Livemint prepared an infographic of the estimated costs of playing professional tennis for those in the ATP’s Top 50. These are the best of the best — the world’s elite tennis players. Here are the major costs associated with being a top professional on the ATP circuit:
- Coaching: $1.5 million
- Food: $30,000
- Travel: $150,000
- Training: $250,000
- Stringing and racket customization: $40,000
- Other miscellaneous costs: $50,000
The data estimates that top players spend anywhere from $175,000 to $2 million per year considering all major expenses. The other significant cost not mentioned here? Time. Every single one of the world’s best tennis players spent countless hours practicing. This means they made incredible sacrifices.
The bottom line? The cost of being a top tennis player is probably greater than you think. While it can also be a lucrative position, it doesn’t come without major sacrifices.