Roger Federer Retires: How Tennis Star Bet Against Nike And Won Big

Zinger Key Points
  • Roger Federer has a record of 1251-275 and $130.59 million in earnings from his professional tennis playing career.
  • Federer walked away from Nike and landed two deals worth more money.

Tennis legend Roger Federer announced his retirement Thursday (Sept. 15). Federer leaves the sport ranking third for men in Grand Slam titles and as one of the top earnings athletes ever.

What Happened: At the age of 41 and after competing in more than 1,500 professional matches, Federer announced he was stepping away from playing professional tennis.

“Of all the gifts that tennis has given me over the years, the greatest, without a doubt has been the people I’ve met along the way: my friends, my competitors and most of all the fans who give the sport its life,” Federer said.

The tennis star said the upcoming Laver Cup where he will compete for Team Europe alongside Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will be his last professional tournament.

“As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries. I’ve worked hard to return to full competitive form. But I also know my body’s capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear.”

Federer said he considers himself fortunate to be able to compete for so long and at a high level.

Related Link: 5 Things You Might Not Know About Tennis Star Rafael Nadal

Federer’s Earnings: In his professional tennis career, Federer has a record of 1251-275. Federer has earned $130.59 million in earnings from his professional tennis playing career.

With limited matches completed over the last two years, Federer’s earnings on the court were $0 in 2022 and $647,655 in 2021.

Federer saw his highest earnings from tennis coming in 2017 with $13.05 million, his only season over $10 million.

While his earnings from tennis of more than $130 million are impressive, Federer has made significantly more off the court.

Big Decision Pays Off: Federer was endorsed by apparel and footwear company Nike Inc NKE from 1994 to 2018. After earning around $10 million per year in the last 10 years of the Nike deal, Federer parted ways with the leading brand.

Federer later signed with Japanese apparel company Uniqlo in a deal reported at $300 million for 10 years. The new $30 million in annual earnings were significantly higher than the Nike deal and also came with two important factors.

The Uniqlo deal did not have a retirement clause, which means the $30 million annual payments last up until 2028 whether Federer competes or not. The deal also didn’t include the rights to shoes, which means Federer could wear whatever shoes he wanted.

Federer wore Nike shoes after the Nike deal expired before eventually switching to shoes from Swiss company On Holding AG ONON. Federer became a brand ambassador for On Holding and also acquired an equity stake of around 3%.

On Holding went public in 2021 at $24 a share, valuing the company at over $6.5 billion. Shares of the company traded up significantly higher on their first day of trading and surged before eventually trading down. The company now trades with a share price of $19.44 and a market capitalization of around $6 billion.

Federer’s 3% stake in On Holding is valued at around $180 million.

The Uniqlo deal and investment in On Holding helped Federer become one of the top earning athletes. The deals also came after walking away from Nike, a well-established brand and signing with two companies that didn’t have large presences in professional sports or tennis.

Federer was named the highest paid athlete of 2020 by Forbes with earnings of $106.3 million on and off the tennis court. In 2021, Federer ranked seventh on the list and was the top-earning tennis player at $90 million.

Federer has been the top earnings tennis player for 17 straight years according to data from Forbes.

Other endorsement deals for Federer include Rolex, Barilla, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton LVMUY-owned Moët Chandon, Wilson, Lindt, Credit Suisse Group AG CS and Berkshire Hathaway Inc BRKABRKB-owned NetJets.

Photo: Kate Tann via Flickr Creative Commons


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