Roger Federer is the world’s highest-paid athlete for 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic knocked football’s Lionel Messi off top spot, according to the annual Forbes list.

The Swiss tennis great, owner of a men’s record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, earned $106.3 million (£86.5m) in the last 12 months, including $100 million (£81.3m) via endorsements, to move up four places and become the first player from his sport to top the list.

Cristiano Ronaldo (£85.4m), Messi (£84.6m) and Neymar (£77.6m) and American basketball player LeBron James (£71.2m) rounded out the top five.

“The coronavirus pandemic triggered salary cuts for soccer stars Messi and Ronaldo, clearing the way for a tennis player to rank as the world’s highest-paid athlete for the first time,” said Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor at Forbes.

Japan’s Naomi Osaka (£30.4m), who was ranked 29th on the list, surpassed fellow tennis player Serena Williams (£29.3m) as the world’s highest-earning female athlete.

Osaka and Williams were the only women on the list.

Football was the next most-represented sport with 14 players, followed by tennis (six), boxing and mixed marital arts (five), golf (four), motor racing (three), and baseball and cricket with one each.



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