Highest-Paid Tennis Players of All Time
It’s always interesting to look at the earnings of athletes in individual sports, because their prize money is dependent on their success. While some money is guaranteed for participating, you need to win to have a career as an athlete in an individual sport.
The highest earners in tennis for men (ATP Tour) and women (WTA Tour) have been the most successful players, and the top four (not the Big Four) stand out.
The top four money earners have accumulated more money combined than the next 12 players. And that’s just money from career earnings — those four also are the most popular players and rake in even more in endorsements.
Who are those top four earners? Who else has become rich swinging a racquet? Meet the top 75 career prize money leaders in tennis.
Note: All figures are from Pro Tennis Live (ATP) and WTA Tennis (WTA) as of May 20, 2019.
75. Tommy Robredo — $13,315,382
There’s something to be celebrated about favoring quantity over quality, and that pretty much sums up Tommy Robredo’s career. He hasn’t won a lot of titles (12), but boy, has he played a lot.
He turned pro as a 16-year-old in 1998 and should crack the top 10 in all-time matches played by the end of 2019. Robredo has played in nearly 900 matches in his career, but none of those have been in a Grand Slam final or even a semifinal. He’s played in another 340 doubles/mixed doubles matches yet also hasn’t appeared in a Grand Slam final in those formats.
Robredo is like that baseball player who hits .270, plays so long that he ends up with 3,000 hits and makes a nice living.
74. Carlos Moya — $13,443,970
Carlos Moya’s career really picked up steam when he beat Thomas Muster at a clay court tournament in Munich in 1996. At the time, Muster was called the "King of Clay" and had a 38-match win streak on clay before Moya beat him.
The Spaniard then validated his place among the game’s elite by winning on clay again at the 2003 French Open. It was Moya’s only Grand Slam championship as a player, but he would win additional ones as a coach.
That’s because Moya’s career came full circle in 2015 as he became a coach of Rafael Nadal, who is this generation’s "King of Clay."
73. Tommy Haas — $13,609,987
Tommy Haas lost a calendar year of his playing career two separate times — or the German may have won even more money.
His parents suffered a horrific accident in 2002, and Haas took over a year off to care for them. Then, in 2010, Haas had multiple operations that put him on the shelf for over a year.
In between, he experienced moderate success and holds multiple victories over No. 1 players, including Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Haas retired in 2018.
72. Dominika Cibulkova — $13,617,777
Dominika Cibulkova has yet to win a major, but she did do something that few others have done at what’s considered tennis’ unofficial fifth major.
As the No. 7 player in the world, Cibulkova qualified for the WTA Finals for the first time in 2016, and she went on to win the whole tournament — just the fourth time a WTA Finals rookie had won the tournmanent.
That win helped boost Cibulkova to the No. 6 finish on the year's money list rankings.
71. Juan Carlos Ferrero — $13,998,165
Juan Carlos Ferrero was among the last group of players to vault to the No. 1 ranking before the Big Four took over.
He was the No. 1 player in the world late in 2003 for eight weeks. Andy Roddick then succeeded him, and after that, it’s been all the Big Four for the last 15 years.
Ferrero’s lone major victory was the 2003 French Open before he passed the Spanish baton to Rafael Nadal, who proceeded to win 11 French Open championships.
70. Gilles Simon — $14,054,848
The subject of equal prize money in tennis always has been a hot-topic item, and in recent years, there has been a push to pay women players the same as men players.
However, Gilles Simon isn’t among the contingent who wants equal pay. Not only did he say men should be paid more, but he also said "men’s tennis is ahead of women’s tennis."
What Simon hasn’t been ahead of is anyone deep into a Grand Slam. He’s played in 51 of them in his career, and the farthest he’s advanced is the quarterfinals round, which he made just twice in his career, at the 2009 Australian Open and 2015 Wimbledon.
69. Jim Courier — $14,034,132
Great things were projected for Jim Courier when at 22 he became the youngest man to reach the finals in all four Grand Slams, a record which still stands today. But Courier settled for "just" four Grand Slam championships and didn’t win any more after the age of 22.
Perhaps due to burnout and doing so much at so young of an age, Courier was done on pro tennis tour at the age of 29.
He then went into tennis broadcasting and also served as the captain of the United States Davis Cup for eight years.
68. Sloane Stephens — $14,045,486
Sloane Stephens earned $3.7 million for winning the 2017 U.S. Open and had a hilarious reaction upon learning of the winner’s check. That amount was just half a million dollars less than what Stephens had made on her first six years on tour combined.
Thanks to the strength of that major victory, Stephens finished fifth on the money list in 2017 and was sixth in 2018. Over those two years, Stephens raked in more than $9 million, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of her career earnings.
67. Elina Svitolina — $14,051,541
Elina Svitolina comes from a family of athletes. Her father was a wrestler, and her mother was a rower. Elina turned professional at 15 and won the junior French Open at the same age.
She hasn’t had the same level of success as a pro as she did as an amateur, but she has reached the quarterfinals in at least one Grand Slam for the past three years.
Svitolina’s career earnings could have been supplemented by money she was offered to change her citizenship early in her career, but she stuck with her native Ukrainian nationality.
66. Vera Zvonareva — $14,094,602
Most of the highest earners in tennis had their success in singles while a few others had their success in doubles. Vera Zvonareva fared well in both, and also won two Grand Slams in mixed doubles.
Her first mixed doubles title, at the 2004 U.S. Open, came with partner Bob Bryan of the Bryan Brothers.
Two years later, she won Wimbledon with Andy Ram as her partner. Bryan also was a part of that match, but he was on the other end, as he and partner Venus Williams fell to Zvonareva and Ram.
65. Flavia Pennetta — $14,197,886
Much like John Elway, Ray Lewis and Pete Sampras, Flavia Pennetta went out a champion by winning her final Grand Slam.
At 33 years old, and having never made a final in her 48 previous attempts, Pennetta defied the odds to win the 2015 U.S. Open.
During her acceptance speech for the U.S. Open trophy, Pennetta announced her retirement at year’s end, making the U.S. Open her final Grand Slam appearance.
64. Mikhail Youzhny — $14,264,450
All tennis players strived to be the absolute best, but Mikhail Youzhny became one of the sport’s richest athletes by simply being above average.
He won just over 50 percent of his matches, never advanced to the final of a Grand Slam and never even had a top-seven ranking at any point during his career.
Yet he’s among the top 1 percent of all tennis players in career earnings. Parents, get your kid a racket.
63. Marat Safin — $14,373,291
Marat Safin accomplished many firsts in a tennis career that stretched from 1997 to 2009.
He was the first player 6 feet, 4 inches or taller to be the No. 1-ranked player in the world. He was part of the first brother-sister pairing to make it to No. 1 as his younger sister, Dinara, also accomplished the feat on the WTA Tour. Marat also was the first Russian player to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
If that wasn’t enough, Marat Safin was elected to the Russian Parliament and served on Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.
62. Jonas Bjorkman — $14,610,671
Tennis is a young man’s sport, but Jonas Bjorkman experienced unprecedented success later in his career.
In 2006, the 34-year-old Bjorkman made the semifinals at Wimbledon, becoming the oldest player to get there in 19 years. He still was ranked in the top 100 on the ATP Tour as a 36-year-old and was gunning for Jimmy Connors’ record at 40 years old, but didn’t make it.
Bjorkman never won a major in singles play but won nine in doubles titles in majors, including the career Grand Slam.
61. Gustavo Kuerten — $14,807,000
Rafa Nadal is the "King of the Clay" at the French Open, but Gustavo Kuerten may have been at least the "Prince" at one point. He won three French Open titles between 1997 and 2001 before injuries began took their toll.
Kuerten actually won more matches in his career at the French Open (36) than he won at all of the other Grand Slams combined (29).
Considered one of the greatest athletes in Brazilian sports history, Kuerten was a torch bearer at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
60. Elena Dementieva — $14,867,437
One of many female players known for their distinctive on-court grunts, Elena Dementieva’s grunt even made its way into the beat of a song by Lil' Wayne.
We’re not sure if she received royalty payments from that, but she definitely received quite a few WTA payments and ranked in the top 10 in money list rankings six times in her career.
She never was able to capture a Grand Slam championship, but she did win something that even fewer people have won — a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
59. Monica Seles — $14,891,762
There will always be a "what if" associated with Monica Seles, whose career was interrupted after a deranged fan stabbed her during a match in Hamburg, Germany, 1993. Seles was 19 when the attack happened and still became an all-time great.
But she could have become the greatest player in women’s history. Seles won eight Grand Slams before turning 20 years old, yet won just one more after the stabbing.
The incident affected her as much mentally and psychologically as it did physically. Nevertheless, Seles became a beacon for inspiration by returning to the game and competing at the highest level.
58. Amelie Mauresmo — $15,022,476
Amelie Mauresmo was ahead of the curve in women’s tennis as one of the first females to lift weights. Her muscular physique often led to controversial remarks from her opponents, including Martina Hingis, who once said Mauresmo was "half a man."
Comments like that were perhaps due to jealousy since Mauresmo was quite successful on the ladies tour and won two Grand Slam tournaments.
She also was respected on the men’s tour and coached Andy Murray, making Mauresmo the first woman to coach a top male player.
57. Ana Ivanovic — $15,510,787
In 2008, Ana Ivanovic was on top of the world as the French Open champion and No. 1 player in the world. Just two years later, she had dropped to No. 65 and missed out on the quarterfinals for 17 straight Grand Slam tournaments.
It would be a great story if Ivanovic rose again afterward to the top of the sport, but her Grand Slam success continued to elude her, and she never made another final of a major tournament.
After not being able to match her previous level of play, Ivanovic retired in 2016 with her last match coming at the age of 28.
56. Bob Bryan — $15,755,415
The other half of the most famous men’s doubles pairing ever, Bob Bryan has nearly $1 million less than his twin brother Mike due to injury.
In 2018, Bob hurt his hip and was out of action for five months. During Bob's absence, Mike earned some extra money pairing with Jack Sock.
As a junior, Bob was a No. 1 singles player, but he has competed in just 61 singles matches on the pro tour, winning 21.
55. Gael Monfils — $16,057,581
Big things were expected for Gael Monfils after the Frenchman made the French Open semifinals as a 21-year-old in 2008. But his career plateaued, and that result remains his best finish at a Grand Slam championship.
Still, Monfils has had some success on the ATP Tour, winning eight tournaments in his career.
Whenever Monfils decides to move on from tennis, paddle tennis may be his next destination. He defeated the No. 1 paddle tennis player in the world en route to winning his debut tournament in the sport.
54. Feliciano Lopez — $16,070,998
If you could tip your hat to Feliciano Lopez for any one thing, it would be for showing up to work. He has shown up and competed in 68 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, the most in tennis history.
Lopez has played in every Grand Slam since the 2002 French Open but hasn’t even sniffed the semifinals in any of the tournaments.
He may be consistently average, but that consistency still has earned him more than $16 million.
53. Kevin Anderson — $16,108,079
Kevin Anderson has won six singles titles in his career, but never a Grand Slam. The South African's best finish is making the finals of the 2017 U.S. Open and 2018 Wimbledon.
At that Wimbledon, after beating Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, Anderson beat John Isner in the semifinals in a match that lasted over six-and-a-half hours, the fourth-longest match in tennis history. Anderson then fell to Novak Djokovic in the finals.
Don't feel too bad for Anderson. He has earned over $16 million with 325 singles wins and close to a 60 percent winning percentage.
52. Nikolay Davydenko — $16,186,480
With no Grand Slams to his name, Nikolay Davydenko is best known for being investigated as part of a match-fixing scandal in 2007.
A large amount of bets were placed on Davydenko’s opponent after Davydenko had won the first set. Davydenko then oddly withdrew from the match during the third set, which seemingly made victors out of all of those who bet on his opponent.
However, there was such suspicion that all of the bets were later voided while both Davydenko and his opponent were cleared of any wrongdoing.
51. Karolina Pliskova — $16,251,953
They aren’t the Williams sisters, but the Pliskova sisters also play tennis, and the two are even twins. While they share the same birthday and the same DNA, they don’t share the same tennis abilities.
Karolina is a former No. 1 player who has won 12 WTA titles and over $16 million. Kristyna’s highest ranking is No. 35, has one career WTA title and has career earnings of under $2 million.
The sisters have faced off twice before and split victories.
50. Grigor Dimitrov — $16,358,195
The Bulgarian-born Grigor Dimitrov hasn’t won any Grand Slams on the court, but some might argue that he hit some grand slams off the court, dating both Maria Sharapova and singer Nicole Scherzinger.
Those accomplishments won’t help his tennis earnings, but they may have played a factor in Dimitrov’s endorsements since he’s signed with Nike.
Thus far, Dimitrov’s best tennis achievement is winning the 2017 ATP World Tour Finals.
49. Mike Bryan — $16,591,235
Who says doubles players can’t get rich? Mike Bryan is one half of the famed Bryan brothers doubles team alongside his identical twin Bob.
Mike has played all of 16 singles matches in his entire pro career, which spans over 20 years. But he’s arguably one half of the most successful tennis pairing of all time as the Bryans have won 16 Grand Slams in doubles competition, and Mike added another two with a different partner.
Due to a hip injury and subsequent surgery in 2018, Bob Bryan hasn’t equaled his brother’s earnings.
48. Alexander Zverev — $16,628,450
Alexander Zverev first burst on the scene in 2016 when, as a 19-year-old, he defeated the great Roger Federer. Zverev holds a combined 5-5 record against Federer and Novak Djokovic and defeated both players in the 2018 ATP Finals.
It was also at 19 that Zverev became a millionaire thanks to his cumulative earnings, and he finished the 2018 season second on the season money list.
He’s only made one quarterfinal in his Grand Slam career, but he has plenty of time to rack up the major wins.
47. Na Li — $16,709,074
Na Li’s success goes beyond the two Grand Slams she won. Tennis exploded in popularity in Li’s home country of China thanks to the exposure she received. She appeared on the cover of Time magazine and was named to its 100 Most Influential People in the World list in 2003.
But the true test of an athlete’s popularity is what your sponsors are willing to do for you and because of Li’s success, Nike bent over backward for her. Her agent worked out a deal with Nike where Li could wear other sponsor’s patches on her Nike gear while playing. In this age of exclusivity with apparel companies, that is a rarity in the sports world.
46. Fernando Verdasco — $16,721,599
A former pupil of Team Agassi, Fernando Verdasco worked with Andre Agassi himself as well as Agassi’s former coach and fitness trainer. Unfortunately, there were no apparent benefits for Verdasco, who's played in 63 Grand Slam tournaments and made no finals while appearing in just one semifinal.
The left-hander has won seven tournaments, and No. 7 is also the highest ranking he’s achieved in his career.
As a member of Team Spain, and playing alongside the likes of Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer, Verdasco has been a part of three Davis Cup-winning teams in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
45. Dominic Thiem — $16,818,650
Dominic Thiem’s greatest claim to fame so far is being on the wrong side of history.
The Austrian's first major championship final was at the 2018 French Open, where he fell to Rafa Nadal. It was Nadal’s 11th French Open title, which equaled Margaret Court’s record for the most titles at a single Grand Slam.
But Thiem could end up being Nadal’s successor as the "King of the Clay." Thiem has made it to at least the semifinals in three consecutive French Opens from 2016 to 2018.
44. Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario — $16,942,640
A four-time Grand Slam winner, with another 10 Grand Slams in doubles and mixed doubles, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario won a lot of money and lost a lot of money.
She says she made over $60 million in her tennis career, counting earnings and endorsements, but still ended up in debt after retiring. She claims her parents mismanaged her money and only got monthly payments of her own earnings from her father.
In a book published in 2012, Sanchez-Vicario said she didn’t learn of her money being squandered until she broke free from her parents after he playing days were over.
"They left me with nothing, and I owe the tax authorities," said Sanchez-Vicario.
43. Richard Gasquet — $17,290,998
Richard Gasquet is a French veteran with over 800 singles matches, but none of those 800 matches has ever taken place in a Grand Slam final.
Gasquet has made the semifinals at three major tournaments, and his greatest tennis accomplishment is winning the 2004 French Open in mixed doubles.
Off the court, Gasquet is best known for being provisionally suspended in 2009 after failing a drug test. He tested positive for cocaine, yet the amount was so trivial that the positive test was overturned. Gasquet contended that the trace amount of the drug got into his system after kissing a stripper at a Miami nightclub.
42. John Isner — $17,925,218
The highest-earning active American male player, John Isner never has reached a Grand Slam final in his 13 years on the ATP Tour. Having a 4-29 record against the Big Four will keep you from a final.
But Isner has a claim to fame that none of those other players has. He was one half of the longest match in tennis history when he took on Nicolas Mahut at 2010 Wimbledon.
The match lasted over 11 hours, spanned three days and took so long that it forced a rule change with the introduction of a tiebreak if the final set reaches a score of 12-12.
41. Samantha Stosur — $18,361,760
Sometimes, all you need is one win to make a career, and that’s what happened at the 2011 U.S. Open.
Samantha Stosur beat Serena Williams in the final for her only career Grand Slam singles victory and also defeated future three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber on her way to the final. Stosur won seven matches during that 2011 U.S. Open after winning just six matches in her previous seven U.S. Opens combined.
Outside of her singles career, Stosur is one of the most accomplished doubles players of her era. She has won three doubles Grand Slam titles and three mixed doubles Grand Slam titles for a total of seven Grand Slams across all disciplines.
40. Milos Raonic — $18,400,474
Born in Yugoslavia of Serb heritage, and raised in Canada but currently living in Monaco, Milos Raonic has a unique background that gives him popularity all over the world. He is considered the greatest Canadian tennis player of all time and has reached as high as the No. 3 ranking in the world.
His career earnings only tell part of the story of his wealth. Raonic established himself as New Balance’s first tennis endorser. After signing a five-year, $5 million contract with the brand, the deal was extended to a lifetime deal. New Balance will sponsor Raonic for the rest of his career and beyond.
39. Garbine Muguruza - $18,729,692
Garbine Muguruza is best known for her two French Open victories in which she dominated Serena Williams, winning in straight sets each time. At the 2014 version, Muguruza handed the defending champion and then-No. 1 Williams her most lopsided Grand Slam loss of her career (6-2, 6-2). Muguruza advanced to the quarterfinals in that year’s tournament.
Two years later, she again disposed of Williams and won the French Open that year. Muguruza claimed another major at the 2017 Wimbledon, defeating Serena's big sister Venus in the final.
That win made Muguruza the first player ever to beat both Williams sisters in major singles finals.
38. Jelena Jankovic — $19,089,259
It’s hard to win money on the court when you’re always rehabbing off it, but that’s been the story of Jelena Jankovic’s career of late. She’s had surgeries on her back, nose and eye sprinkled in with No. 1 world rankings.
She’s never won a major and has just one finals appearance to her name, but consistency in the major tournaments has netted her nearly $20 million.
Over 12 straight Grand Slams from 2006 to 2009, Jankovic reached at least the fourth round, and those four years account for nearly half of her career earnings.
37. Michael Chang — $19,145,632
At 16, Michael Chang signed a multi-million dollar endorsement deal with Reebok. At 17, Chang became the youngest man to win a Grand Slam by claiming the French Open. It was all downhill once he got out of his teens.
Chang had a long and successful tennis career, but he never again won a major tournament and made just three more finals in his career.
However, Chang has had a successful career away from the tennis court. He owns several real estate companies in the United States.
36. Goran Ivanisevic — $19,878,007
As a 17-year-old in 1989, Goran Ivanisevic made a name for himself by reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. But that would end up being his most significant Grand Slam finish for a dozen years until he shocked the world by winning Wimbledon in 2001.
Ivanisevic was just the 125th-ranked player in the world and needed a wild-card entry to even make the tournament. But he put on a Cinderella-like run, beating four former or future No. 1- ranked players to claim the only Grand Slam championship of his career.
The unlikely win at Wimbledon landed Ivanisevic, a Croatian, at No. 16 on a list of the 100 greatest sports moments in United Kingdom history.
35. Stefan Edberg — $20,630,941
Stefan Edberg separated himself from other greats of his era by relying more on quickness and his athleticism instead of a powerful serve.
He’s considered, perhaps, the greatest serve-and-volley player of all time as he would attack the net after his serve in order to get into position for a volley. That tactic worked best on fast-playing surfaces, and all six of his Grand Slam titles came on either grass or hard courts.
Edberg also played a role in Roger Federer increasing his career earnings, coaching Federer in 2014 and 2015, to help bring out a late-career resurgence from Feds.
34. Andy Roddick — $20,640,030
Sixty-one and counting. No, we're not talking about Roger Maris’ former home run record. There have been 61 Grand Slam tournaments played since an American man last won one. That came way back in 2003 when Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open.
It wasn’t a sign of things to come.
Roddick only made it to three more majors finals in his career, and his lack of Grand Slams victories kept the Big Four from becoming the Big Five.
33. Justine Henin — $20,863,335
Justine Henin would be higher on this list had she not chosen to retire in the middle of her prime in 2008.
At 25, Henin was the No. 1-ranked player in the world with three straight French Opens wins, but she chose to walk away from the game, before returning 16 months later. Her return wasn’t as successful as her first run, though she did add two more WTA singles titles to her resume.
As the money leader in 2006 and 2007, Henin and Serena Williams (the money leader in 2008 and 2009) are the only players to lead the WTA money list in back-to-back years since 2000.
32. Lleyton Hewitt - $20,865,473
Many expected Lleyton Hewitt to be the long-term rival of Roger Federer — the two are just months apart in age. But after reaching historic heights early in his career, Hewitt fizzled thereafter, and Rafael Nadal took his spot as Federer’s chief rival.
In 2001, the 20-year-old Hewitt became the youngest No. 1-ranked player ever and held the year-end No. 1 ranking in both 2001 and 2002. He combined to make nearly $8.4 million during those two years, but would make just $8.1 million over the next nine years combined.
The last of his two majors victories came in 2002, and his final tournament victory came in 2014.
31. Ivan Lendl — $21,262,417
Ivan Lendl was ahead of his time in terms of his approach to preparation and playing.
In the 1980s, he hired the same workers who installed the hard court surface at the U.S. Open to install the exact same surface at his home tennis court. Whatever the cost paid off in the end as Lendl won three U.S. Opens to go along with five other majors.
Lendl’s success extended beyond the big events. He won a total of 94 singles titles, which ranks third all-time behind Jimmy Connors (109) and Roger Federer (100).
30. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga — $21,370,443
After Jo-Wilfried Tsonga turned pro in 2004, he accumulated $421,786 in his first four years on tour combined. Then, he broke through in 2008 and made four times that amount, nearly $1.7 million.
Tsonga’s "breakthrough" didn’t translate into a major championship (he’s still chasing his first), but he was sixth on the ATP money list that season and collected his first two tour wins.
Like so many others, the Big Four have stood in the way of Tsonga’s first Grand Slam, but he does have five wins over the foursome at Grand Slams, the third-most of any other male player.
29. Martina Navratilova — $21,626,089
Perhaps no player in tennis history, male or female, has had a better career than Martina Navratilova. She has dominated in singles, doubles and mixed doubles to the tune of 59 Grand Slam titles, the most ever.
Navratilova’s career spanned 32 years, and at the age of 49, she was still competing, and winning, at Grand Slams, capturing the mixed doubles at the 2006 U.S. Open.
She topped the money list every single year from 1979 to 1986 and was within the top two of the money list an astounding 13 straight years (1977-89).
28. Steffi Graf — $21,895,277
Of anyone on this list, Steffi Graf is the biggest example of a player who was a victim of the era she played in. No player has had a No. 1 ranking longer, no player has a greater win percentage at Wimbledon, and no other player has won all four Grand Slams at least four times. For both women and men.
Yet, even with all of those accomplishments, Graf can’t even crack the top 25 in career earnings because she did her damage in the late 1980s and 1990s, before prize money exploded. Thus, she has to settle for the No. 28 ranking.
However, she can take some solace in the fact that Michael Jordan isn’t even among the top 100 highest-paid players in NBA history.
27. Lindsay Davenport — $22,166,338
While tennis rankings change from week to week, players strive to have the year-end No. 1 ranking. That means you finish the year as the best player on tour and enter the next season on top of the mountain.
Lindsay Davenport achieved the year-end No. 1 ranking four times in her career, which is only topped by the Mount Rushmore of women’s tennis: Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Serena Williams.
Speaking of Williams, Davenport sat atop the career earnings of female tennis players until Williams surpassed her in 2009. Since then, a dozen female players have surpassed Davenport’s earnings.
26. Kei Nishikori - $22,769,712
In 2007 as a 17-year-old, Kei Nishikori served as the hitting partner for Roger Federer at Wimbledon. Federer went on to win Wimbledon that year. That’s about the closest Nishikori has come to hoisting the trophy at the All England Club.
He has managed to defeat Federer three times, but Nishikori has reached just one quarterfinal at the tournament over the last dozen years.
But just appearing at Wimbledon pays handsomely, and Nishikori ranks 14th all-time among men in career earnings, despite no majors to his name.
25. Yevgeny Kafelnikov — $23,883,797
As impressive as Yevgeny Kafelnikov's career earnings are, perhaps the greatest achievement of his career is having a 4-2 record versus Roger Federer.
Other players have defeated Federer more often, but no other tennis player has a better win percentage against Federer than Kafelnikov.
As a player, Kafelnikov captured four Grand Slams and remains the last male player to win both the singles and doubles title at the same Grand Slam, doing so at the 1996 French Open.
24. Kim Clijsters — $24,442,340
In terms of individual sports, Kim Clijsters’ 2003 season ranks right up there with Tiger Woods’ 2000 golf season. It didn’t hurt that Serena Williams missed half the year with an injury, but Clijsters was dominant in singles and doubles play, reaching at least the semifinals in 20 of her 21 events and winning nine tournaments.
Due to her quality and quantity of play, Clijsters became the first player in nearly 30 years to compete in 100 matches in a single year. She also won five doubles tournaments that year and held the No. 1 rankings in singles and doubles simultaneously.
She earned over $4.4 million in 2003 to top all tennis players, both male and female.
23. Svetlana Kuznetsova — $24,602,301
The Russian-born Svetlana Kuznetsova has done her most damage against fellow countrywomen. She won two Grand Slam victories, the 2004 U.S. Open and 2009 French Open, against compatriots Elena Dementieva and Dinara Safina, respectively.
The bulk of Kuznetsova’s earnings came during this period as she made it to at least the Grand Slam semifinals five times during that span.
Since then, 39 major tournaments have been played, but Kuznetsova has yet to make it past the quarterfinals.
22. Martina Hingis — $24,749,074
Before the Williams sisters ascension, Martina Hingis was the dominant player in women’s tennis and won all five of her majors between 1997 and 1999. She was a tennis prodigy, who became the youngest player to win a Grand Slam singles title and the youngest to earn the No. 1 ranking at 16 years old.
She endured many injuries in her 20s and was hit with a two-year suspension in 2007 for testing positive for a metabolite of cocaine.
When she returned to play, she competed mainly in doubles before retiring after the 2017 season.
21. Boris Becker — $25,080,956
The oldest person on this list, the 50-year-old Becker turned pro in 1984. That is before roughly 80 percent of this list was born.
Becker won a pair of Grand Slams as a teenager and had seemingly peaked before reaching his mid-20s. He then went into a mid-career decline before summoning up one last run and claimed the 1996 Australian Open, which came five years after his most recent major victory.
But for as much money as Becker made on the court, he nearly lost just as much off it. A divorce settlement cost him $14.4 million, in addition to losing a Miami condo to his ex-wife. And in 2017, Becker declared bankruptcy, despite making over $60 million in his career in prize money and sponsorships.
20. Juan Martin del Potro — $25,585,306
From the 2005 French Open to the 2013 U.S. Open, the Big Four won 34 of the 35 major tournaments. The one person to stop those all-time greats was Juan Martin del Potro, who claimed the 2009 U.S. Open.
He defeated Rafael Nadal in the semis, then Roger Federer in the final to become the first person to beat both of those legends in the same major.
Del Potro hasn’t experienced close to that success again. He’s yet to even make the final of a major since that win a decade ago.
19. Marin Cilic — $26,655,502
In Marin Cilic’s first year competing in money events in 2004, he accumulated $300 in earnings. A decade later, Cilic won the U.S. Open and earned nearly $5 million for the year.
That win remains his only major victory, but he’s been a steady presence at the top of the ATP rankings. Cilic would be even higher in the rankings and on this list if he had better success than the 16.7 win percentage he has against the Big Four (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray), but that is why they are the Big Four.
18: Aga Radwanska — $27,683,807
Aga Radwanska is the only female on this list who has yet to win a Grand Slam, and her only final came at Wimbledon in 2012. But as we’ve learned, Grand Slam victories aren’t the only way to a tennis fortune.
She has won 20 titles on the WTA Tour and finished in the top 10 of the annual money list every year from 2011 to 2016.
One of the most popular players on Tour, Radwanska has been awarded the WTA Fan Favorite Singles Player award six times in her career while no other player even has two such awards.
In addition to being popular, she’s also smart. After spending years expressing her love of the Cheesecake Factory, the restaurant chain made her their first sports endorser.
17. Angelique Kerber — $28,263,838
Angelique Kerber has championship wins at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open under her belt. A victory at the French Open is all that separates Kerber from becoming the 11th female winner of the career Grand Slam.
Two of her major tournament victories have been particularly noteworthy. She defeated Serena Williams in the final of the 2016 Australian Open and 2018 Wimbledon. That makes Kerber one of two people to defeat Serena multiple times in the final of a major tournament (the other is Venus Williams).
Kerber also is raking off the court as she made $12.6 million in endorsements in 2017, which was second among all female athletes.
16. Tomas Berdych — $29,369,723
Tomas Berdych is one of three players on this list who has never won a major championship with his best finish being the 2010 Wimbledon final.
He does, however, hold a unique honor that only two others (Stan Wawrinka, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) have achieved, as they are the only three players to defeat all of the Big Four at Grand Slam tournaments.
But Berdych gladly would trade in that footnote for a taste of a Grand Slam championship. At 33 years old, his best is clearly behind him, but his best still earned him nearly $30 million.
15. Victoria Azarenka — $29,592,487
Outside of Venus and Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka is the next person on this list who can point to doubles matches as a big source of revenue.
She’s had lots of success in singles competition as her former No. 1 ranking and two Australian Open wins would attest, but she’s also competed in over 200 career matches in doubles or mixed doubles. Azarenka has won two Grand Slams in mixed doubles, in addition to the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
In 2017, Azarenka had a strange situation that forced her to miss the U.S. Open. She was involved in a custody battle with the father of her 8-month old child, and the only way she could play at the U.S. Open in New York was if she left behind her child in her home state of California. She refused to do so, and thus, she skipped the tournament and a possible seven-figure payday.
14. Simona Halep — $29,658,860
The youngest player on this list, Halep turned 27 in September but is already the sixth-highest earning female of all time. She also may be the best player in the world at the moment as she locked up the year-end No. 1 ranking in both 2017 and 2018.
In between those honors, Halep won the 2018 French Open, the only Grand Slam championship of her career. That win boosted her 2018 earnings to $6.3 million, which ranks first among all female players and third overall behind Novak Djokovic ($10.7 million) and Rafael Nadal ($8.7 million).
13. Petra Kvitova — $29,846,027
Petra Kvitova certainly would be higher on this list if she hadn’t missed nearly six months in 2017 after being attacked by a knife-wielding intruder during a home robbery. She suffered tendon and nerve injuries in her left hand, her dominant hand, and missed out on the Australian Open, among other tournaments.
As a result, Kvitova finished just 33rd on the money list for the year, the only time in the last eight years she’s been outside the top 10.
Besides that, Kvitova is one of just three active female players (along with the Williams sisters) who have won multiple Wimbledon championships. Hers came in 2011 and 2014.
12. Andre Agassi — $31,152,975
Many pick Pete Sampras as the best of his era over Andre Agassi, but this eight-time majors winner did something that Sampras never did: He won the career Grand Slam. Sampras never won the French Open while Agassi claimed all four of the Grand Slam championships.
When Agassi retired in 2006, he ranked second all-time in tennis earnings but has since been bumped out of the top 10. That fall isn’t nearly as big as his wife’s, Steffi Graf. The 22-time Grand Slam winner ranked fourth in prize money when she retired in 1999, but now ranks 27th and didn’t even make this list.
11. David Ferrer — $31,483,911
David Ferrer holds the dubious honor of being the highest-paid tennis player of all time without winning a Grand Slam championship. He only made one final at a major tournament so the high point of his career was being part of three Davis Cup winning teams.
Ferrer’s fortune mainly comes from his performance on the ATP Tour where he’s won lots of matches, and lots of minor tournaments, but none of the big boys.
He does have 27 singles titles and another two doubles wins, though not winning a Grand Slam forever may haunt him.
10. Stan Wawrinka — $32,397,425
Stan Wawrinka has three majors to his name, and some have called for the Big Four of men’s tennis to be expanded to the Big Five. But once you see that Wawrinka’s win percentage is 22.4 percent against the other members, the Big Four is just the right size.
Wawrinka, 33, was a late bloomer who went a dozen years before he won his first major in 2014. He then went on a run with a Grand Slam in three straight years and topped out as the No. 3-ranked player in the world.
9. Caroline Wozniacki — $33,833,825
Maria Sharapova is the top off-court earner in women's tennis, but if she is to pass that mantle onto someone, it likely will be Caroline Wozniacki.
The Danish star has earned over $6 million in endorsements in 2018, and Wozniacki finally crossed her name off the list of "Best Player to Not Win a Grand Slam" when she claimed the Australian Open and returned to the No. 1 ranking after a six-year absence.
Among active female players, only Serena Williams has held the No. 1 spot more weeks than Wozniacki’s 71, even though Wozniacki has made it to just three Grand Slam finals in her career.
At 28 years old, Wozniacki is the only person in the top 10 of this list under 30, and her best tennis could be yet to come.
8. Maria Sharapova — $38,560,323
Serena Williams’ dominance on the court is only equaled by Maria Sharapova’s dominance off the court. Sharapova is the third-highest earning female tennis player ever, but she reigns supreme in endorsement money, which is over $300 million for her career.
According to Forbes, Sharapova was the highest-paid female athlete for 11 straight years from 2005 to 2015. Only her suspension for a failed drug test knocked her from the perch, but she rebounded to collect another $10.5 million in 2018.
Sharapova also has had a Hall of Fame-worthy playing career, although that drug test will forever hang over her like a dark cloud.
7. Venus Williams — $41,325,475
By the time Wimbledon rolls around in 2019, Venus Williams will be 39 years old and competing against players half her age. It’s been a decade since her last Grand Slam victory, but she’s had a late-30s renaissance and made two Grand Slam finals in 2017.
Williams also has represented the United States at five different Olympic Games and her four Olympic gold medals are tied with sister Serena for the most ever.
Over the last 20 years, Venus Williams admirably has played the Phil Mickelson role of tennis — if, you know, Mickelson was Tiger Woods’ older brother.
6. Pete Sampras — $43,280,489
Like other players on this list, Pete Sampras became a victim of the era in which he played. It’s hard to believe that it has been over 16 years since his last official match, and prize money has grown exponentially in the years in between.
Sampras topped out at $6,498,311 during the 1997 season, and with inflation, that would be over $10 million in 2018 and good enough for second place on the tour.
Many of the records that Sampras set during the 1990s have been surpassed by Djokovic, Federer or Nadal, but Pistol Pete still does hold one which shows his dominance. He finished as the ATP’s No. 1-ranked player to end six straight years (1993-98), which remains the record for most year-end No. 1 rankings.
5. Andy Murray — $61,109,225
When everyone talks about the Big Four of men’s tennis, the first three are interchangeable, but the No. 4 spot definitely belongs to Murray. In some other era, he could be the ATP’s best player, but in this one, he’s almost an afterthought, despite three Grand Slam wins.
What he does have that the others don’t have is a pair of Olympic gold medals from the 2012 Games in his hometown of London and the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro (Nadal also has one gold from 2008).
Murray has battled injuries in recent years and had to pull out of many tournaments because of his ailments. He ended his 2018 season in September due to an ankle injury and dropped to as low as No. 839 on the ATP Tour before creeping back into the top 300.
4. Serena Williams — $88,673,097
A recent Nike ad calls Serena Williams the "greatest athlete ever," and by default, that makes her the greatest tennis player ever as well. You won’t find many who disagree with that statement as her 23 majors are more than Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi combined.
What’s nearly as impressive is the distance that Williams has created between herself and other female tennis players in earnings. She has made more in her career than the second- and third-highest female players combined, and her career is far from over.
There are few certainties in sports, but Williams tying and then passing Margaret Court’s record for most Grand Slams (24) is all but assured, and it would be the icing on the cake for her title of greatest athlete ever.
3. Rafael Nadal — $106,957,186
It’s fitting that Rafael Nadal is right after Roger Federer on the career earnings list, as the two have been linked throughout their careers. Federer and Nadal is right up there with Magic and Bird or Manning and Brady in terms of greatest sports rivalries of the last half century.
Nadal is youngest player in the Open Era (since 1968) to complete the career Grand Slam, achieving the feat at 24 years old. He is considered the greatest clay court player in tennis history, and his 11 French Open titles back up that claim.
Due to injuries and missing tournaments, Nadal’s earnings have stagnated somewhat in recent years. From 2005 to 2011, he finished first or second every year on the money list. But from 2012 to 2018, he’s finished first or second just three times.
2. Roger Federer — $123,632,204
With 20 Grand Slam titles, Roger Federer is most fans’ pick for the title of "Greatest (Male) Tennis Player Ever." The span of his world-class play is unprecedented as he made his debut during the Sampras-Agassi era of the late 1990s and won his 20th majors title some 20 years later.
At the 2018 Australian Open, the 36-year-old Federer became the oldest male to win a Grand Slam singles title in over 45 years.
While Novak Djokovic has the edge in tennis earnings, Federer has the big edge in money earned through endorsements. In 2018, Federer earned $65 million in endorsements, which not only tripled Djokovic ($22 million), but Fed also topped all athletes regardless of sport.
1. Novak Djokovic — $131,040,932
Novak Djokovic’s standing as tennis’ all-time money leader may come as a surprise to many, since he’s considered one of the best, but not the best. His resume certainly puts him in elite company as his 15 Grand Slams are the third-most all-time among men’s players.
But the two people he trails, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, trail him in prize money. A big reason for that is his dominance outside of the Grand Slam tournaments. In 2015, Djokovic set the all-time record for most ATP points accrued in a single season.
Djokovic’s peak season is the best season in the history of the sport and akin to Tiger Woods’ historic 2000 season on the PGA Tour.