Top Earners & Players in the Game
Only three women are ranked in the top 10 highest earning tennis players of all time: Serena Williams at No. 4, Venus Williams at No. 7, and Maria Sharapova at No. 8 (Gaines & Loudenback, 2018).
For a closer look at the breakdown of tournaments won and career earnings, one only needs to look at ESPN for ATP (ESPN, 2018a) and WTA (ESPN, 2018b) rankings and player profiles. The current men's world No. 1 and highest earning tennis player of all time is Novak Djokovic. His current record of 832-174 has earned him more than $121 million since turning pro in 2003 (ESPN, 2018c). He has won 14 Grand Slams. World No. 3 Roger Federer (ESPN, 2018d) turned pro in 1998, has won 346 more matches than Djokovic, holds 20 Grand Slam titles (most by any male player), and has earned almost $119 million in comparison. Moss (2015) discovered a nearly $8.1 million increase in prize winnings at the same Grand Slams Djokovic won in 2011 and 2015.
Serena (ESPN, 2018e), however, is currently ranked No. 16 but is the highest earning female player of all time. After turning pro in 1995, she has earned just over $88 million and has a record of 801-136. She has 23 Grand Slam titles - more than any current player male or female. She needs only one more to tie with Margaret Court - the player with the most Grand Slam titles in history.
This is an almost $33 million difference between her and Djokovic though she has won nine more Grand Slam titles and has played eight years longer. How?
The four Grand Slam tournaments are combined and give the highest amount in prize earnings. The US Open was the first to award equal earnings in 1973 and would be for almost 30 years. The Australian Open was second in 2001, followed by the French Open in 2006, and finally Wimbledon in 2007.
The Grand Slams are the only tournaments that the men play best of five sets – all other tournaments are best of three. Just like the women. But does this mean they should earn more? It obviously doesn’t because male and female players earn the same at these tournaments. Some male players disagree with equal earnings citing they draw more spectators. However, Serena Williams has proved them wrong by helping the US Open women's final sell out faster than the men's final in 2015 (Snyder, 2015).
Created with images by Lucas Davies - "Father-Son Tennis" • Constantin - "stadium tennis court tennis audience observer us" • Filip Mroz - "Tennis" • Steffan Mitchell - "Tennis From Above"