Roger Federer Tops Forbes' 2020 Highest-Paid Athlete List over Messi, Ronaldo

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 29, 2020

TOPSHOT - Switzerland's Roger Federer reacts after his victory against Spain's Rafael Nadal during their tennis match at The Match in Africa at the Cape Town Stadium, in Cape Town on February 7, 2020. (Photo by RODGER BOSCH / AFP) (Photo by RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images)
RODGER BOSCH/Getty Images

Tennis legend Roger Federer topped Forbes' 2020 list of the world's highest-paid athletes with $106.3 million in total earnings from salary, winnings and endorsements.

Federer, who ranked fifth on last year's list, leapfrogged soccer superstars Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, along with boxer Canelo Alvarez, to take the No. 1 spot.

Here's a look at the new top 10 based on earnings from the past 12 months:

  • Roger Federer (tennis): $106.3 million
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer): $105 million
  • Lionel Messi (soccer): $104 million
  • Neymar (soccer): $95.5 million
  • LeBron James (basketball): $88.2 million
  • Stephen Curry (basketball): $74.4 million
  • Kevin Durant (basketball): $63.9 million
  • Tiger Woods (golf): $62.3 million
  • Kirk Cousins (football): $60.5 million
  • Carson Wentz (football): $59.1 million

It's the first time the 20-time Grand Slam champion has ranked atop Forbes' annual list.

The 38-year-old fan favorite's ascension despite being in the latter stages of his playing career was buoyed by $100 million in endorsement earnings, highlighted by a 10-year, $300 million contract signed with Japanese retail company Uniqlo in 2018.

"We feel the greatest impact of Roger Federer is yet to come," Uniqlo head of global creative John Jay told Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. "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."

On the court, Federer added two more titles to his Hall of Fame resume over the past 12 months with triumphs in the Halle Open last June and the Swiss Indoors in October. He's won 103 singles championships, second to only Jimmy Connors (109) in tennis' Open Era.

Here are the top earners from sports not represented in the top 10:

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  • Boxing: Tyson Fury ($57 million; No. 11 overall)
  • Racing: Lewis Hamilton ($54 million; No. 13)
  • MMA: Conor McGregor ($48 million; No. 16)
  • Baseball: Clayton Kershaw ($27.3 million; No. 57)

No hockey player qualified for the top 100, which had a $21.8 million cutoff. The Toronto Maple Leafs' Mitch Marner had the highest base salary for the 2019-20 NHL season at $16 million, per CapFriendly.

Meanwhile, Naomi Osaka posted the highest single-year earnings for a female athlete in the history of Forbes' tracking at $37.4 million.

Earlier this month, the 22-year-old Japanese rising star said she's working to overcome "crippling shyness" to use her new global platform in a positive way.

"For me, I have a lot of regrets before I go to sleep, and most of the regret is that I don't speak out about what I'm thinking," Osaka told CNN Sport.

Forbes noted the coronavirus pandemic has made an immediate impact on athletes' earnings, as the combined $3.6 billion earned by the top 100 is a nine percent drop from last year.