Tennis superstar Roger Federer has knocked Lionel Messi off the top spot as this year's highest earning athlete in the entire world.

Federer leapt to the top by moving up four places from his position last year. He kicked the Argentine football star off the throne by earning £86.2 million in the past year. From that amount, a whopping £81 million came from endorsement deals. Even with most competitions cancelled across the globe, partnerships and endorsement deals continue to rake in the big bucks for many top athletes. Most of them hold multi-year deals with numerous brands.

However, footballers were forced to take salary cuts due to the league suspensions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This cost-cutting measure paved the way for a tennis player to overtake the football stars who dominated the top positions for several years.

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo took his rivalry with Messi all the way to the Forbes chart. Despite not playing in the same domestic league anymore, the football behemoths are in close contention with each other when it comes to earnings. Ronaldo (£85 million) took the second spot behind Federer and only narrowly edged out Messi (£84 million) in third.

Another footballer, Neymar Jr., is in fourth place with £77.5 million in earnings. NBA star LeBron James completed the top five with £71.5 million.

British athletes also made appearances in this year's Forbes list of Highest Paid Athletes in the World. Boxer Tyson Fury is the highest-placed Brit with £46.2 million landing him on 11th position. Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, who is yet to compete this year due to the pandemic, finds himself in 13th place with £43.7 million in earnings.

Meanwhile, Japanese tennis star and two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka is proving to be a thorn on Serena Williams' side both on and off the court. After defeating Williams in that controversial US Open in 2018, she has also broken Williams' four-year streak as the highest paid female athlete.

Last year, Osaka earned £30.7 million, £1.15 million more than Williams. Osaka is 29th overall, while Williams holds the 33rd spot.

Roger Federer
Roger Federer continues to play at a high level despite being 38 Photo: AFP / William WEST