Roger Federer leads the annual Forbes ranking of highest-paid athletes with what the magazine says is $NZ171.8 million in total earnings.

It is the first time the tennis legend has topped the list and he's the first tennis player to do so since it was first compiled in 1990.

The owner of a men's-record 20 Grand Slam singles titles made $10.2 million of that haul from tennis prize money, with the rest from endorsements and appearances fees, according to Forbes.

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Football stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar took spots 2-4, with the NBA's LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant at Nos. 5-7, followed by Tiger Woods at No. 8.

NFL players Kirk Cousins and Carson Wentz round out the top 10.

Two women were in the top 100, both tennis players.

Naomi Osaka was at No. 29 after setting a record for a female athlete with $60.5 million in earnings over the past 12 months. Serena Williams was No. 33 with $58.3 million.

It must be said that many sports, most-notably baseball, have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic with player salaries slashed across the board as competitions struggle to survive.

The top 10 highest-earning athletes of 2020

1) Roger Federer (tennis)

2) Cristiano Ronaldo (football)

3) Lionel Messi (football)


4) Neymar (football)

5) LeBron James (basketball)

6) Stephen Curry (basketball)

7) Kevin Durant (basketball)

8) Tiger Woods (golf)

9) Kirk Cousins (NFL)

10) Carson Wentz (NFL)