The 38-year-old earned a total of $106.3 million over the past 12 months, making him the first tennis player to top Forbes’ world’s 100 highest-paid athletes list.
Athletes from 10 sports and 21 different countries made the list this year but only two women made the cut — still the highest representation of female athletes since 2016.
Federer, who is a 20-time grand slam champion, boasts the best endorsement portfolio in the world of sport, with $100 million of his earnings coming off the court.
He leapfrogs football stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to secure top spot.
“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 Forbes’ Senior Editor Kurt Badenhausen.
“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.”
Juventus star Ronaldo ranked second in the list having earned $105 million last year whilst his fierce rival Messi, who plays for Barcelona, was in third with $104 million, down from the top spot in 2019.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar and NBA legend LeBron James completed the top five with those two stars earning $95.5 million and $88.2 million respectively.
Rising tennis star Naomi Osaka placed 29th whilst her rival Serena Williams was 33rd.
However, Osaka becomes the highest-paid female athlete in history after earning $37.4 million over the last year.
The 22-year-old amassed her pre-tax total through a combination of prize money and endorsements, raking in $1.4 million more than Williams.
Forbes’ list takes into consideration factors such as prize money, salaries and endorsements from June 1, 2019.
The top 100 made a combined total of $3.6 billion during the past year, a 9% decline from the previous one.
And it seems probable that elite athletes’ lofty earnings will take even more of a hit in the future with the economic situation so unstable across the world.
“The global health crisis proves that when the economy fails, even the world’s wealthiest athletes take a big hit,” added Badenhausen.
“Salaries and endorsement income have skyrocketed the past decade, but both are headed for precipitous falls, as revenues plummet for major sports leagues and companies tighten their marketing budgets.”