How much money do professional tennis players earn per year/tournament?
What’s the average amount of money earned by professional tennis players during a year-long season on the pro circuit. The answer might surprise you.
Professional tennis players are paid according to their performance in a tournament. Before a tennis tournament starts, the organization establishes the prize money breakdown (how much the champion, runner-up, semi-finalists, etc., will make). Players are compensated according to what round they lose.
In general, the pros get paid via 6 different income sources: tournament prize money, tournament appearance fees, endorsement deals, sponsorships, exhibition fees, bonuses, and club tennis deals. We should also say, that it would be naïve to believe that a player’s ranking, nationality, and marketability doesn’t have an effect on how much they are able to earn from the aforementioned sources.
So if you’re not Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, or Novak Djokovic how much money are we talking?
Pro life starts with ITF Futures Tour
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that earning depend entirely on what level you’re playing at. For example, the first bracket at which professionals start to earn money for their time on the court is the ITF Futures Tour. Home to many new professionals and elite juniors, this is the arena in which they can begin to earn not just money, but official ranking ATP points as they start their journey toward the higher echelons of the tennis world. Prize money at this level is modest if we’re honest, with tournament funds typically totaling somewhere between %15,000 and $25,000. This is to say that the winner takes home anything from $2000 to $4000.
On to the ATP Challenger Tours
The next level for professional players is the ATP Challenger Tour and WTA Challenger Series for men and women respectively. Needless to say, there is a significant increase in the purse available at this level. Yet, it’s not even close to what players make at the elite levels of the game. Until 2021 and not too long after, the ATP Challenger Tour saw players competing for prize money ranging from $36,680 to $156,240 per tournament, with approximately $21, 000 going to winners on average. Here in 2023, however, things are very different. Following a huge bump in resources by the ATP, the prize money at Challenger Tour level has increased by 60%. As effectively the penultimate level of the game, the ATP is where players begin to make decent money. Indeed, as of 2021, the average earnings for a male tennis player ranked anywhere from position one to one thousand on the ATP list were $185,106.59. Of course, the figures can be deceptive, with world No. 1 Djokovic earning $9,100,547 and world No. 1000 Michal Mikula earning $4,273. In that sense, the median salary is actually more like $22,362. When compared with the WTA, it’s not so exact as only 550 female players earned prize money in 2022. The average earnings for a WTA player were $254,394.55, and the median was $75,888.
The Main Tours
The prize money offered at Grand Slams and larger ATP tournaments is significantly higher than the Future or Challenger level tournaments. In 2022, US Open offered $2,500,000, for the winner, which is 173 times the amount winner of a Challenger 100 tournament typically makes ($14,400). Even a first-round loser in a Grand Slam makes more than $100,000, which can be more than many players earn in a season. However, to qualify for Grand Slams, a player usually needs to be ranked amongst the 104 best players in the world, which is not an effortless accomplishment.