Eurozone crisis? What Eurozone crisis? Take a look at how much money the world’s top tennis players are trousering, and you’d think we’re in a global boom, not a global depression.
Top of the tree is Roger Federer who squirreled away a total of US$52.7 million last year. According to publishing company Forbes, the Swiss mister was the fifth highest-earning athlete in the world. Even more gutting when you realise how low income tax is in his native country.
But then he is a sponsor’s darling – polite, well turned out, bland Swiss preppy. No wonder Rolex watches and a huge bank have chosen him as their ambassador.
Who else were they going to hire? Just look who’s ranked above him on Forbes’ rich list: Floyd Mayweather Jr (currently on a 90-day stretch in a Vegas prison for domestic violence); Manny Pacquiao (street urchin turned politician); Tiger Woods (massive philanderer) and LeBron James (ungrammatically-baptised son of an ex-con).
Next up among the tennis players is Rafa Nadal, the 16th highest-paid athlete in the world, with earnings of $33.2 million. Que paso, hombre? What exactly does he spend all that cash on? He still lives with his mum! And judging from all that underpant-fiddling, he hasn’t yet managed to buy himself Y-fronts that fit properly.
Surely he can’t blow all that wonga just on bananas? For $33.2 million, you could feed the entire planet’s population of primates and still have enough for free banoffee pie for the rest of us.
Not far behind our Mallorcan friend is Maria Sharapova, the 26th highest-earning athlete in the world, but the top-earning female. Last year she stuffed a staggering $27.9 million under the mattress.
Sweet. So sweet, in fact, that she’s decided to launch her own brand of tennis ball-shaped candy. Oh dear.
For the next tennis player you need to drop down to position 62 on the Forbes list, occupied by Novak Djokovic, with $20.6 million earned last year.
Bit of a victim of his own success, is young Novak. In 2009 he signed a 10-year deal with Italian clothing company Sergio Tacchini. But the latter hadn’t expected their man to do so well, and when he clinched his fifth Grand Slam, they weren’t able to cough up the promised bonuses. That’s why right now you see Novak sporting clothes from bargain-basement Japanese company Uniqlo.
The final racket-wielder in Forbes’ list is China’s Li Na, with earnings of $18.4 million last year. Not surprising when you consider the number of compatriots following her every move. She just has to fart and a billion Chinese happily fart with her.
There is a serious side to all this cash, however. Wallowing in so much opulence and luxury during a global recession, the professional tours risk alienating the tennis fans who pay dearly for tickets and TV subscriptions to watch.
Fortunately neither Federer nor Sharapova are Greek. In fact the Greek male No.1 player (Alexandros Jakupovic) is ranked around 600 in the world, and has earned less than $6,000 in prize money so far this year.
The top-ranked Greek female, Eleni Daniilidou is faring better, ranked around 90 in the world, with prize money of $138,000 already this year. But still not enough to incur the wrath of her hungry compatriots.
Quite what will happen when the Spanish economy implodes, is anyone’s guess. Rafa had better hide his bananas.