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Federer is world’s highest paid athlete: Forbes

Roger Federer as seen in a South African charity event in February 2020 Keystone / Nic Bothma

Roger Federer is world's highest-paid athlete in 2020, after the Covid-19 pandemic cut paydays for other top earners, according to the annual Forbes list. It the first time he has topped the list.

This content was published on May 29, 2020 - 19:01

The Swiss tennis star, who has a men's record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, notched up $106 million (CHF102 million) in pre-tax earnings over the last 12 months, including $100 million via endorsements, to move up four places and become the first player from his sport to top the rankings, Forbes said on Friday.

Footballers Cristiano Ronaldo ($105 million), Lionel Messi ($104 million and last year’s list leader) and Neymar ($95.5 million) and American basketball player LeBron James ($88.2 million) rounded out the top five.

"The coronavirus pandemic triggered salary cuts for soccer stars Messi and Ronaldo, clearing the way for a tennis player to rank as the world's highest-paid athlete for the first time," said Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor at Forbes, said on Reuters

The two football icons’ combined salaries dropped by $28 million from 2019. This was a result of salary reductions at many European football clubs when league play was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Forbes said.

"Roger Federer is the perfect pitchman for companies, resulting in an unparalleled endorsement portfolio of blue-chip brands worth $100 million a year for the tennis great," added Badenhausen.

Japan's Naomi Osaka ($37.4 million), ranked 29th on the list, went past fellow tennis player Serena Williams ($36 million) as the world's highest-earning female athlete. 

Osaka and Williams were the only women on the list.

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