How Much Do Pro Tennis Players Make?

Naomi Osaka

Pro tennis players can seem glamorous. After all, Forbes says it isn’t uncommon for them to make its list of the highest-paid athletes in the world. Unfortunately, interested individuals should remember that those at the top of a profession aren’t necessarily representative of everyone else. Being an average pro tennis player is much less appealing. It is no exaggeration to say that people would be better off working a regular day job.

How Much Do Pro Tennis Players Make?

Perfect Tennis states that male tennis players made an average of $185,106.59 in prize money in 2021. That sounds decent enough. However, interested individuals should remember that the average can be misleading.

Sometimes, they shouldn’t be looking at the mean. Instead, they should be looking at the median. In this case, the median for male tennis players was $22,362 in prize money in 2021.

There is an enormous disparity between the mean and the median because the highest-paid tennis players who earn millions of dollars are extreme outliers. Everyone else earns much less in prize money.

For context, the ten highest-ranked male tennis players earned an average of $5,982,539. Meanwhile, the 101st to 200th highest-ranked male tennis players earned an average of $321,503, while the 201st to 300th highest-ranked male tennis players earned an average of $139,478. By the 1,501st to 2,000th highest-ranked male tennis players, that number has tumbled to $701.

Petra Kvitova

Difference between Male and Female

Female tennis players’ prize money numbers were higher in the same period. The mean was $254,394.55, while the median was $75,888. Still, interested individuals should know these numbers are also misleading.

No numbers are available for anyone lower than the 501st to 550th highest-ranked female tennis players. As such, fewer individuals were included in the calculations. Otherwise, the average prize money for female tennis players saw the same sharp decline down the rankings as the numbers for their male counterparts.

Of course, there are other ways for tennis players to make money. The issue is that they aren’t much more lucrative for those outside the best of the best. As a result, it is no wonder the Tennis Bros says even the 51st to 250th highest-ranked tennis players will struggle to break even. It isn’t uncommon for them to make five figures. The issue is that they have enormous travel and accommodation costs if they play full-time.

How Do Pro Tennis Players Make Their Money?

My Tennis HQ says tennis players make their money through several methods:

Prize Money

For starters, tennis players earn prize money. This isn’t limited to those who win tournaments. Tennis players earn prize money by participating in them. The further they go, the higher their earnings. This isn’t quite as good as it sounds.

Only a small number of tennis players can participate in the biggest tournaments, which are the ones that give tens of thousands of dollars even to those who finish in the first round.

In contrast, less well-known competitions top out at low thousands to low tens of thousands of dollars for the winners. Considering the costs for someone to become a pro tennis player in the world, it isn’t hard to see why most of them struggle to break even.

Appearance Fees

Generally speaking, the top tennis players don’t have much reason to participate in lower-ranked tournaments. However, they possess enormous marketing power, meaning their presence can sell more tickets than otherwise possible.

As a result, it is common for tournament organizers to get top tennis players to show up by paying them appearance fees. The best of the best can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars through this method.

Unfortunately, marketing power tends to see a sharp decline as one moves down the rankings, meaning other tennis players can’t expect the same kind of appearance fees. Of course, that is if they can expect any appearance fees at all.

Exhibition Matches

Exhibition matches are a more available source of income for tennis players. Unsurprisingly, the best of the best can earn millions through their participation in these events.

Still, other tennis players can earn thousands by playing in exhibition matches, which isn’t bad considering the payout for winning lower-ranked tournaments. With that said, exhibition matches aren’t that common, meaning they aren’t the most stable source of income, even from the perspective of a tennis player.

Tennis Leagues

Supposedly, tennis leagues are a more reliable way for tennis players to make money. They can pay thousands of dollars. Moreover, some tennis leagues cover tennis players’ food and housing.

That might not sound very impressive. However, interested individuals should remember that erases a considerable portion of tennis players’ costs, thus bringing them that much closer to the breakeven point or better. Granted, this says more about their lack of alternatives than anything else.


Sponsorships are critical for tennis players. These are tied to their marketing power. The top tennis players can secure the most lucrative contracts because they have the most marketing power.

It isn’t uncommon to hear about them earning millions of dollars through this method. The interesting thing is that other tennis players can have considerable marketing power because of other factors.

Unfortunately, they may or may not have much control over those factors. For instance, tennis players from countries that love tennis have more marketing power.

The issue is that they are competing for limited opportunities with their countrymen and countrywomen. If those tennis players are the only ones of note from their countries, they can secure a much bigger share of the benefits than otherwise possible. In contrast, if those tennis players share citizenship with higher-ranked competitors, they are going to have a much harder time capitalizing on those opportunities.

Please note that sponsorships can take a broad range of forms. Often, they include bonuses for better performance. Those make sense because they incentivize tennis players to do better, thus potentially providing the sponsors with a better return on their investments.

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