clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why most tennis players struggle to make a living

Tennis fails where other sports provide a living for their players. 

Laura Bult came to the video team via Vox’s Netflix show, Explained , and previously worked on documentary series for National Geographic and Zero Point Zero Production.

During the US Open in New York, Vox video sat down with professional tennis players and the head of the Professional Tennis Players Association to explain the pay problem in the top-five global sport. Tennis is unique among other professional sports in how players are paid, what costs they are responsible for, and how they are categorized: as independent contractors. The result is that — unless you are consistently among the very top-ranked players like Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, and Naomi Osaka — it’s nearly impossible to make a living with income from tennis alone.

Unlike other sports that provide support for people outside the very top performers, tennis leaves them high and dry.

In 2021, Novak Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil co-founded a players’ organization in part to try to address these issues they believe pose an existential threat to the sport. It’s called the Professional Tennis Players Association, and Vox video worked with them to interview players and the organization’s president to shed light on the structural issues that cause such a pay disparity when compared with other global sports.

You can find this video and the entire library of Vox’s videos on YouTube.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.