Some of the world’s best-known brands will be eyeing the latest injury threat for 78th-ranked Emma Raducanu ahead of the Australian Open, writes STUART FRASER.
Some of the world’s best-known brands will be among those keeping tabs on Emma Raducanu’s latest injury threat ahead of the Australian Open. Having invested a combined £15million a year in the 20-year-old Brit, her nine sponsors will see her recover from a sprained ankle in time to compete on one of tennis’s biggest stages.
Raducanu may be a low No. 78 in the world rankings after a volatile 2022, but she remains one of the sport’s most marketable players. Ranked 4th on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid female athletes, released late last year, there is still nothing to suggest that her earning power is faltering from her struggles on the court.
No wonder Max Eisenbud, one of Raducanu’s agents, optimistically declared after her stunning 2021 US Open triumph that “the iron is hot, we’re going for it”. In 2004, there is no sport like tennis that offers teenage girls a path to untold riches. This is evidenced by the presence of seven tennis players in the top ten Forbes list.
The portfolio that Eisenbud has built for Raducanu includes several blue-chip brands. Backed by British Airways, Dior, Evian, HSBC, Nike, Porsche, Tiffany, Wilson and Vodafone, her off-pitch earnings last year totaled around 25 times her on-pitch prize money of £580,000, for 17 victories in 36 games – She reached just one semifinal at the Korea Open in September.
Understandably, some have wondered if Raducanu’s performance at such a young age was affected by so many commercial distractions. Their time is taken up with lucrative deals, whether it’s a photo shoot or, as other players have often experienced, a polite but firm request for a birthday video message for powerful CEOs.
The model used to balance Raducanu’s time is similar to the one Eisenbud used with Sharapova, who was Forbes’ highest-paid female athlete for 11 years from 2004 to 2015. A calendar was created, crossing out any weeks in which both the agent and the player agreed that there should be no commercial work – generally before, during and immediately after a tournament. In the case of Raducanu, 365 had a maximum of 18 sponsor days left.
“We could have done 50 days of shooting,” Eisenbud said on the BBC’s Sports Desk podcast last year. “I’ve never seen so much excitement and companies looking to do business with Emma after the US Open.”
Eisenbud added that because of the 18-day limit, “millions of dollars” have been left off the table.
“Emma decided she wanted to start her shoots at 12 or 1 p.m. and go until 8 or 9 p.m. and have the option to work out or work out or do some fitness in the mornings,” he said.
There are some performance-related clauses that Raducanu will have missed over the past year. Endorsement deals often include specific bonuses for achievements such as winning another Grand Slam title and finishing the year in the world top 10.
While Raducanu risks slipping further down the rankings if she withdraws from the Australian Open – she will drop to around 85th depending on other results – most pundits agree she will eventually return to the list after will rise, which would potentially trigger six-figure premiums.
“It won’t be a big surprise if they [Raducanu] sort of breaks through again and makes it into the world top 10 and she’s got a couple of quarterfinals,” said Mats Wilander, former world No. 1 and Eurosport pundit. “It’s not a big surprise because she understands tennis and has the level when she plays well.”
While Grand Slam events offer checks worth around £2million to singles champions, the sport’s brightest female stars know their long-term financial security should be built on out-of-court referrals. Serena Williams, who bagged around £80m in career prize money, has become heavily involved in the business over the past few years, investing in more than 70 start-ups. The 41-year-old was ranked No. 2 on the Forbes list with £250,000 earned on the pitch – winning just three out of seven games before retiring in September – and £34million of that.
The biggest difference in on-court and off-court earnings comes from the list’s top athlete, Naomi Osaka. The 25-year-old from Japan played a reduced schedule of 14 wins from 23 games last year after returning from a mental break and won £900,000 in prize money. That pales in comparison to a staggering £41m worth of deals from more than 20 corporate partners. The only male tennis player to earn more was Roger Federer with a business-related income of £75million.
Interestingly, women’s No. 1 Iga Swiatek has yet to realize her full earning potential off the pitch. Her £8.2m prize money exceeds her £4m sponsorship earnings, although she still sits No. 5 on the Forbes list, ahead of Venus Williams (No. 6) and Coco Gauff (No. 7).
World No. 3 Jessica Pegula from the United States completes the set of seven tennis players in the top 10 at No. 9 with £3million on court and £3.5million off. As the daughter of Buffalo Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula, she would be comfortably number 1 if her family fortune of £5.5billion were included. But to her credit, that substantial financial cushion hasn’t caused her to take her eyes off the ball.
“I was always super motivated, before the bills and the money and all that stuff,” Pegula said last year. “It’s always what I wanted. That hasn’t changed since I was six or seven years old. Why should it change now?”
– The Sunday Times
Originally released as Emma Raducanus’ booming ad earnings, they have not yet been impacted by injuries and problems of form
https://www.codesports.com.au/tennis/australian-open/emma-raducanus-booming-endorsement-earnings-have-not-yet-been-hurt-by-injury-and-form-woes/news-story/38fda5932f62a631b09671d4a3f3da3c?nk=93b17eac5144349d76434c1b50909365-1673138947 Emma Raducanu tennis news: Booming profits unharmed for now