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How much money do professional tennis players earn?

What is the average annual income of a professional tennis player during a season on the pro ATP circuit? You might be surprised by the answer.

What is the average annual income of a professional tennis player during a season on the pro ATP circuit? You might be surprised by the answer.

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.

Generally, 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 don’t affect how much they can earn from the aforementioned sources.

So, if you’re not one of the Big 3, how much money are we talking about?

Pro-life starts with ITF Futures Tour

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that earnings depend entirely on your playing level. 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 where they can begin to earn money and official ranking ATP points as they start their journey toward the higher echelons of the tennis world. If we’re honest, prize money at this level is modest, 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. There is a significant increase in the purse available at this level. Yet, it’s not even close to what players make at the game’s elite levels. 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 massive bump in resources by the ATP, the prize money at the Challenger Tour level has increased by 60%. As effectively the game’s penultimate level, 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 more like $22,362. 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 that provided at Future or Challenger-level tournaments. In 2022, the US Open offered $2,500,000 for the winner, 173 times the amount a 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.