It might be 2022, but fairer pay across the board for professional sportspersons is still a huge debate across the globe. And some governing bodies are making bigger strides than their counterparts in terms of levelling the playing fields, with tennis one of the first to announce equal prize money for winning one of its four Grand Slams (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open).
That makes the popular racket sport the most equal between sexes in the world, according to a study carried out by Casumo ahead of Equal Pay Day on September 18th. But men are still generally earning more than female professionals due to racking in superior endorsement deals — which creates a 53% pay gap between the two genders.
Despite not playing as much in recent years due to reoccurring injuries, Roger Federer still takes the top spot in the men’s game — with a cool £90 million in endorsements from the likes of Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo and Swiss apparel company On in the last year making the 41-year-old, who was the top paid athlete in 2020, the seventh highest earner in sport this year.
On the flip side, former ATP No.1 Naomi Osaka took home £59m this year — a slight decrease on 2021’s earnings. Amazingly, however, just £1m of the four-time Grand Slam winners’ pay came from actual tennis prize money — with £58m earnt from deals with the like likes of designer brand Louis Vuitton, watch company Tag Heuer, apparel giants Nike and Beats by Dre making her the highest-paid female sportsperson in the world and 19th on the overall list.
There is still a massive gap in equal pay in football, which many will argue needs addressing. The men’s top-paid player Lionel Messi takes home a mammoth 2,067% more than US Women’s National Team forward and globally renowned superstar Alex Morgan.
The tricky Argentine was the highest-paid athlete in the world in the last 12 months as he earned a massive £130m last year, or £250 per minute, with endorsement deals from Adidas and beverage companies Pepsi and Budweiser making up 40% of his income. Morgan — a massive advocate for equal pay — on the other hand, made just £6m (or £11.42 a minute) from her deals with Nike and Coca-Cola.
It’s a similar story in basketball. Lebron James of the Los Angeles Lakers is the, unsurprising, top earner in the men’s game — making a massive £120m in the last year. The 37-year-old, who Forbes believe to be a billionaire, made more money off the court than ever before in the last 12 months (£68.5m) — with endorsements including Walmart, lifetime sponsor Nike and PepsiCo, alongside starring in Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Candace Parker, who won the 2021 Women’s National Basket Association (WNBA) with Chicago Sky in 2021, has a much lower income. With the WNBA capping salaries at roughly £171,000, the 36-year-old relies heavily on endorsements — which resulted in her making about £4.7m from the likes of Adidas, Capital One and Carmax last year.