Exclusive Janko Tipsarevic column: The world No 8 on why he thinks average earnings on the tour are “ridiculously low” and why the sport “needs a radical change”.
For me, the biggest problem in the sport at the moment is the average salary of a tennis player. You have guys at the very top who are making a lot of money, that’s true. And I am not talking about me – I am in the top 10 now and making a lot more money than ever before. But for the guys who are top 200 the average salary, for this level, is way too low. You sacrifice so much to play tennis as a career, all the travelling, so many weeks a year. The money is just ridiculously low if you compare it to other individual sports.
I am not talking about football; you can’t compare it to that. But golf is the best example. Golf and tennis, for me, are both from the same family of sports. So in golf, look at how many players made more than $1 million in prize money last year (94) compared to tennis (15). I feel that’s ridiculous. It is about the average salaries. If you are a player ranked about 100, if you stay about 80 or 90, I would say that you would not lose money, but you would not make any money either. Being in the top 100 in anything, in life, is a pretty good thing, I would think. And that’s not including the cost of a physio, it’s just those players and a coach. They have to pay all their expenses, pretty much, and then taxes.
The grand slams have increased the prize money for the first rounds, but I think we need a radical change. Doing it step by step, nothing’s going to really change. On the other hand, I don’t think we need a revolution either. But – and let’s just say it, the NBA players are fighting because their salaries are 51 percent of the overall revenue and we have between 11 and 13 percent (at the grand slams). I don’t want people to think we are being greedy – when they see that a winner of a grand slam wins more than £1 million they think all tennis players earn a lot of money, but for the rest of the players it’s not easy. And it’s a short career. We’re not asking for more money, as such – just a bigger percentage, a fairer percentage.
Getting 15,000 euros or whatever it is for losing in the first round, that seems good but then you have to take off taxes, paying for coaches, travelling, maybe getting to a tournament a couple of weeks before, paying for accommodation and so on.