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Volume IconRoger Federer: The billion-dollar legacy

Roger Federer has decided to quit tennis after a successful career of 24 years. He not only clinched 20 grand slams, but also a list of brand endorsements. A peek into the financial side of the legend

Roger Federer, Federer

File photo of Roger Federer (Photo via Reuters)

As he announced his retirement from competitive tennis, Roger Federer thanked his supporters for helping make the dreams of a young Swiss ball kid come true. Regarded as one of the greatest male tennis players in history, Federer is hanging up his racquet as age finally catches up with him. 

At a time when the sport was getting more aggressive, Federer embodied a calm that champions strived for. His record in Wimbledon is a testament to this style of play. 

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His style on the court was artistic as he relied more on elegance than raw power. In a game dominated by power-hitters and endurance, he was one of the few who banked on techniques to challenge his opponents.

[Byte of Suveen Sinha, Business Standard]

Federer has not played a single match in nearly 14 months. His last competitive appearance at Wimbledon in July 2021 was a quarter-final defeat. Yet in the twelve months leading to May 1st, 2022, the 41-year-old made an estimated $90 million before taxes and agents’ fees.

On Forbes’ 2022 list of the world’s highest-paid athletes, Federer took the seventh spot even though he won only about $700,000 in prize money during the period. 

While he was the world’s highest-paid athlete on the 2020 list with a total of $106.3 million, he remained the highest-paid tennis player for 17 straight years.
His on-court earnings through prize money since turning ‘pro’ in 1998 totalled $130.5 million, the third in ATP Tour history, behind Djokovic and Nadal.

However, Federer had no contest off the court. He made about $1 billion across his career through sponsorships, endorsements, appearance fees at tournaments and lucrative exhibition events.

His career earnings total of $1.1 billion before taxes and agents’ fees is more than double that of Nadal’s $500 million and Djokovic’s $470 million
He is only one of seven athletes across sports to have surpassed $1 billion, while still active.

When Federer described his sponsors as partners in his statement he did not mean it as a mere formality.

Federer has an endorsement portfolio of 14 brands, half of whom have been sponsoring him for more than a decade. These include Mercedes-Benz, Credit Suisse, Rolex, Lindt and Wilson. His other sponsors include Uniqlo, Gillette, Barilla, NetJets, Rimova and Moët & Chandon.

His biggest deal came in 2018 when he quit Nike to sign a 10-year $300 million contract with Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo. Nike had paid him $150 million over a two-decade period.

Even as his on-court visibility fades, Federer can expect most of his sponsorships to continue into retirement. Few athletes have transcended their sport like Federer. 
But how did he earn the loyalty of his sponsors?

N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research says, Federer’s on-court composure is reflected in his personal life. He gives hope and brings enthusiasm to the game. Federer has made a lasting connection with fans.

Federer has been long-planning for life after professional tennis. In 2013, he and his agent Tony Godsick co-founded player management agency Team8.

The tennis legend is set to retire after next week’s Laver Cup in London. The tournament, which became an official ATP event in 2019, is owned by Team8. In 2019, Federer invested in Swiss shoe brand On, which went public last September. His estimated 3% stake in the company is worth $200 million.

His sharp business decision could one day make him the fourth athlete-billionaire after Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Tiger Woods. 

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First Published: Sep 19 2022 | 7:00 AM IST

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