The 5 highest earners in tennis of all time – full analysis

Intrigued about the highest earners in tennis? Some of the numbers associated with the game’s top earners are rather mind-blowing. And since you’re here – you’re about to learn exactly what these numbers are and who they are associated with. 

My goal today is to supply a breakdown of the highest earners in tennis from the perspective of both ATP and WTA players. To be specific, however, I won’t just be covering the players who are ringing the cash register at an alarming rate right now. 

Instead, I’ve kept the research pool open to all players who have competed in what’s commonly referred to as the ‘Open Era’. Then again, we should keep in mind that tennis players tend to be paid far more these days than they used to be. 

Highest earners in tennis Djokovic
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Therefore, my review of the highest earners in tennis of all time has produced a somewhat skewed chart in favour of the players who have played professionally most recently. And since the figures for these individuals extend into the hundreds of millions, believe me, you’ll be shocked at just how much these players have made in their time.

Nevertheless, I’ve promised an in-depth review of the highest earners in tennis in the Open Era, and that’s exactly what I’ve provided below.

All-time highest earners in tennis – an introduction to the five individuals who top the charts

If you’ve already read through some of our articles relating to things like Djokovic’s net worth, for example, you may have an idea of who will feature here. Yet, if you haven’t, you may be surprised to see the list of the top five all-time earners in the sport of tennis. 

On that note, I don’t want to keep you in suspense any longer, so let me give you a list of the five highest earners in tennis of all time right now (in no particular order):

  • Serena Williams
  • Roger Federer
  • Rafael Nadal
  • Novak Djokovic
  • Andy Murray

As you can see, there is just one female who ranks inside the top five highest earners in the sport of tennis, and that female is the legendary Serena Williams. Don’t worry, you’ll see exactly where she ranks in this list as we work through a breakdown for each player below. 

But right before we get to that, I feel that to do these players justice, you should know that between them – they’ve banked more than $500 million in career prize money. That’s simply incredible for a pool of just five players.

However, who tops the list? And how do the top five highest earners stack up in terms of the exact numbers they’ve accumulated over the years? I’m glad you asked!

Novak Djokovic – number one among the highest earners in tennis with over $180 million in prize money

As you no doubt guessed before we started this review of the highest earners in tennis, it’s King Djokovic who tops the charts. The Serbian is now widely regarded as the most successful tennis player to have ever taken to a tennis court – hence his nickname of the ‘GOAT’. And a rather nice side effect of all of this success is the amount of money he has made in the sport over his decorated career.

Specifically, following the immense Djokovic 2023 season that shocked us all, he has now moved beyond the $180 million mark in terms of career prize money. It’s not like the next guys in line are nipping at his heels for this statistic either. In fact, as you will soon find out, the second in line for the highest earners in tennis is close to $50 million behind Novak Djokovic.

But how on Earth has he produced such numbers? Well, Novak Djokovic has won a total of 24 Grand Slams in his career, which carry the most prize money of all tournaments. However, it’s his immense success in the Masters 1000 tournaments that has pumped up his numbers too.

Djokovic highest earners in tennis
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To be specific, he has won a total of 40 Masters 1000 titles in his career. And since these are the second tier of tournaments on the ATP Tour, when you combine this with his Grand Slam records, it’s easy to see how he has accumulated such enormous prize money.

The craziest part is that he’s not done yet, so could he end up with more than $200 in career earnings? I wouldn’t put it beyond him.

Rafael Nadal – number two of the highest earners in tennis with more than $134 million in career earnings

Here we have another legend who comes second in this rundown of the highest earners in tennis. Of course, Rafael Nadal is someone who also has claims on the GOAT debate for men’s tennis. But since Novak Djokovic has surpassed Nadal in the Grand Slam department, many believe that this debate has been laid to rest.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand, Nadal is the second-highest earner that the sport has ever seen, with $134,640,719 million in prize money as of December 2023. Sadly for Roger Federer fans, this number puts Nadal a few million ahead of Federer – another statistic where Nadal has managed to surpass the Swiss Maestro! Then again, if you look at Roger Federer’s net worth, I doubt he will mind too much.

I’m sure you don’t need too many reminders about what Nadal has achieved in his career either. The 37-year-old Spaniard has won 22 Grand Slam titles, putting him 2nd of all-time, and this includes a simply ridiculous 14 Roland Garros titles. 

He has also won 36 Masters 1000 titles in his career, which is where a lot of his prize money has come from. And just like Novak Djokovic, Nadal is still going!

Roger Federer – now number three of the highest earners in tennis with just over $130 million made

Now we come to my all-time favourite – Roger Federer. Nobody made the game of tennis look as easy as this man did, and he was the first to take the game of tennis up to the level we see these days. As for what all of this success has brought him, Roger Federer is third on the list of the highest earners in tennis with slightly more than $130 in prize money – $130,594,339, to be precise.

Roger Federer is, of course, the third of the ‘big three’ who features in this list. And interestingly, he is the only other tennis player in history who has earned over $100 million in career prize money. Once again, this shows how dominant the big three were in their time. 

As for Federer’s prize money and where it came from, the bulk of his earnings came from his 20 Grand Slam titles – at least these were his biggest single paydays. However, he also won 28 Masters 1000 titles, which contributed to the total of 102 ATP titles won during his career.

Serena Williams – highest earner in tennis of all time for the women’s game with over $94 million in career prize money

Serena Williams stands head and shoulders above the majority of WTA players in the Open Era. What she did for the sport of tennis in her career is nothing short of extraordinary. Furthermore, she was the star of the show for several of the greatest tennis rivalries in women’s tennis that we’ve ever seen.

With the way that Serena Williams hit the ball, not to mention the fighting spirit that she displayed for more than two decades in professional tennis – she deserves all the credit she gets. Yet today, since we are talking about the highest earners in tennis, she must be acknowledged for the amount of money she made in the sport.

Highest earners in tennis Serena Williams
Photo by Icon sport

At the time of her retirement, Serena Williams had brought in close to $95 million in career earnings – $94,816,730, which is the exact figure on the WTA website. Such incredible sums of cash were earned thanks to 23 Grand Slam trophies, a supreme number of weeks spent as the best player in the world (319 cumulative weeks), and her 72 career titles. 

Andy Murray – fourth in line for the men’s highest earners in tennis with just under $65 million made

Last but not least, it’s Andy Murray who creeps inside the top five to wrap up this rundown of the highest earners in tennis. Now, if you are old enough to remember Andy Murray on the professional tour around 10 years ago, you will know that he formed what was known as the ‘big four’ back in those days.

Of course, he earned his place in such an exclusive group due to his incredible tennis abilities, as well as his results. Specifically, Andy Murray won 3 Grand Slam titles in his career, he spent 41 weeks as the world number one, and he also won 14 Masters 1000 titles. Keep in mind that he achieved such things while Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer were at the top of their game too.

So the fact that Murray managed to break up the sheer dominance of this group is an incredible achievement in itself. As for the numbers that have helped Murray enter the top five highest earners in tennis of all time, his success in those days led to the number he currently boasts, which is $64,246,026.

Since Murray is at the end of his career, however, I wouldn’t expect this number to increase too much further, unless he comes back to shock us all with a deep draw run at a Grand Slam!

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