Roger Federer may be the best tennis player of his generation. So when he talks, the tennis world — and sports world in general — listens. If the right people follow up on Federer’s thoughts, it could mean a better situation for players on the tour who rank near the bottom of tournament draws. Recently, Federer spoke out about equal pay.
Roger Federer’s outstanding career
Federer’s career accomplishments speak for themselves. The Swiss star has won 20 Grand Slam singles titles since 2003. He’s also earned at least five titles at each Grand Slam tournament except the French Open, where his lone championship came in 2009.
But his on-court success doesn’t end with the major events. The 38-year-old has more than 100 career titles overall, and he’s won more than 80% of his matches since going pro in 1998. Federer also won the silver in the men’s singles event at the 2012 Summer Olympics, losing in the final to England native Andy Murray.
Federer’s career earnings
Federer has earned more than $126 million in career winnings to date for his play on the court, which includes nearly $6 million in on-court earnings in 2019 alone (through August). This number is just a small part of his estimated $450 million net worth, reports The Street.
Being the face of tennis for 20 years has nabbed Federer many lucatrive endorsement deals. Luxury brands like Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz, and Rolex have all turned to Federer. He locked down another big endorsement deal in 2018 when Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo signed Federer to a 10-year deal worth $300 million.
Federer on equal pay in tennis
Federer is part of a growing contingent calling for equal pay. While most of these arguments focus on women making the same amounts as men, Federer is advocating for something different. After Federer defeated Bosnian Damir Džumhur in his second-round match the US Open — which gives women equal winnings as men — he discussed the sport’s pay discrepancy between the top stars and those lower on the totem pole.
Federer acknowledged that the pay is better for top stars than it was when he started his career, but he feels it’s not the same way for the lower-tier players. Federer, who’s been elected to the ATP Player Council, feels a higher percentage of revenue from ATP tournaments should go to players who don’t make an event’s main draw.
He told reporters that “tournaments don’t find it very sexy giving (increases) to first-round qualies or second-round qualies,” but he believes that “challenger players and also qualifying and second-round losers should get more. If there should be increases it shouldn’t be at the top anymore.” He went on to say the sport is at a good level in terms of payouts at the top of the draw.
Lower-tier players suffer with their careers
U.S. Open men’s and women’s champions will earn nearly $4 million each, but the payout for a first-round appearance is just $58,000. Grand Slam qualifiers and players on the secondary Challenger Tour struggle to maintain their careers because of low tournament earnings, a lack of steady sponsorships, and high expenses for coaching, travel, and accommodations.
Federer recognizes that those players “also sacrifice a lot of their time and work equally hard as we do at the top,” so he hopes the sport is “going to get that right hopefully … in the next … five to 10 years.”