With the 2019 tennis season wrapping up, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have dominated the prize money leaders list this decade. On the women’s side, Serena Williams received the highest annual prize money multiple times from 2010 to 2019.
The Spaniard Rafael Nadal was the prize money leader in the 2010 season. He drew prize money of US $10,171,998 from the ATP circuit. Nadal called it his best year.
That year Rafa won French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. Winning the next Slam, Australian Open 2011 would mean that he held all four slams at the same, also informally called the ‘Rafa Slam’. However, his countryman David Ferrer stopped him in the Melbourne quarter-finals.
In 2010, Nadal also concluded the year as the World Number 1 tennis player with the highest number of tournament titles – 7.
On the WTA courts, the Belgian, Kim Clijsters had earned the highest prize money. She took home an earning of US $5,035,060. She was successful in defending her US Open title in 2010. It was her third Open success and she was felicitated with the ‘player of the year’ title.
The 2011 Tennis season marked the birth of a new Goliath in the sport.
‘Novak Djokovic’ placards were ubiquitous in the tennis world and the boy from Belgrade gatecrashed the party for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
2011 is famously called as ‘Djokovic Dominated Season’.
The Serb led the prize money list with the US $12,619,803 in his pocket. In 2011, Djokovic won ten ATP titles including Indian Well, Miami, Madrid, Rome, and Canada titles and three Grand Slams.
He just dropped a Grand Slam match at the Paris major semifinals, where Roger Federer snapped his 41-match winning streak on the ATP Tour. It also records as one of the best matches of the decade.
That season his win-loss record against ‘Fedal’ was 10-1.
The most improved and comeback player, Petra Kvitova bagged the US $5,145,943 in prize money on the WTA Tour. She made her Grand Slam breakthrough in 2011 by clinching the Wimbledon title.
She was declared the player of the year.
Djokovic was once again the prize money leader in 2012. He bagged prize money of US $12,803,737 that year. His Grand Slam match winning streak was extended to 27 matches from Wimbledon 2011 to French Open 2012.
This was also the year when Djokovic and Nadal played the longest Grand Slam final in Melbourne which lasted for 5 hours and 53 minutes.
He was a match away from holding all four Slams at once, but the ‘King of Clay’ took him out in four sets in the finals of French Open 2012. He won six titles in 2012 and also clinched the year-end World Number one.
Former World Number one, Victoria Azarenka was on the top of the prize money list on the women’s side. She earned US $7,928,920 and claimed her first Grand Slam title at the 2012 Australian Open by defeating Maria Sharapova in the finals.
After her Melbourne major victory, she became the new World Number one. That season she entered the maximum number of finals tying with Sharapova at number nine.
However, Serena Williams won the most number of titles.
Rafael Nadal led the prize money column in 2013 by winning staggering US $14,570,935. During the clay season, he just dropped a single match against Djokovic in Monte Carlo. In the semifinals of Roland Garros that year, the two warriors once again put up the show that exceeded everyone’s expectations.
In that match, Djokovic was leading by 4-2 in the fifth set but the Spaniard was in no mood to have his French Open finals legacy tarnished. Nadal bounced back and sealed his spot in the finals with 9–7 victory in the fifth set.
Nadal was a round-one upset at Wimbledon, but during the North American hardcourt summer he seized all the titles with victories at Rogers Cup, Cincinnati Open and US Open. Rafa was also the finalist at ATP World Tour Finals.
The American legend Serena Williams was the prize money leader on the WTA tour. It summed up to US $12,385,572. She became the first WTA player to eclipse the $10 million bar. Williams had the best winning percentage of 95.1%, which was the highest since 1990. She was also named the ‘World Champion’ for the fourth time.
That season Williams also dominated the clay season winning 5 titles and having a 28-0 record on the surface which produced her longest winning streak. She won her second French Open title in 2013. Later, she was victorious at the US Open and WTA Tour Finals.
Djokovic once again led the list with the US $14,250,527 to his name. The Serb held the titles in Indian Wells and Miami with victories over Federer and Nadal in those finals respectively.
He won the Wimbledon title after defeating Federer in the finals. Later, he defended his crown at ATP World Tour Finals in London, after Federer withdrew from the finals due to back injury.
Over on the women’s tour, Serena once again concluded the year with the highest prize money in her pocket. This time it was US $9,317,298. That year her winning percentage in the finals was 100. She ranked no. 1 for one whole year and also completed the year as number one.
She defended her US Open and WTA Tour Finals crowns.
In 2015, Djokovic became the third man to reach all 4 major finals in a season and he won three of them. His bank account was credited with a whopping sum of US $21,646,145 from the ATP circuit, which is the highest prize money ever earned in one calendar year.
That season, Djokovic became the second man to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros. He had an impressive 15-4 record against the other three members of Big Four.
After his loss at Cincinnati Open to Roger Federer, Djokovic remained undefeated for the rest of the season. Post that, he won the US Open, China Open, Shanghai Masters, Paris Masters, and London ATP Finals. His only loss came at the second round-robin to Federer at ATP Finals 2015.
For the third consecutive year, Serena Williams was the prize money leader with US $10,582,642. In 2015, Williams was triumphant at three Slams and lost US Open semifinals to Roberta Vinci in a heartbreaking 3-setter. Had she won that title, she would have been only the second player in the Open Era (after Steffi Graf) to hold the prestigious ‘Calendar Slam’ i.e. the winner of all four grand slams in a single calendar year.
In October, she surpassed Chris Evert in the third place for weeks ranked World Number one. She also finished that year at number one.
That year, a player not named Nadal or Djokovic was on the apex of the prize money list. The Briton, Andy Murray amassed US $16,327,821 from the ATP Tour. He reached three consecutive majors finals and was successful in pulling off the Wimbledon title. That year, Murray won all his grass-court matches.
He was victorious at the year-end championships and also defended his Olympic Gold medal in Rio. After his US Open quarterfinal defeat to Kei Nishikori, Murray won all the matches on the ATP Tour. It includes his title victories in Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna, Paris, and ATP Finals. He concluded the year as World Number One male tennis player.
The German pride of tennis, Angelique Kerber was the prize money leader in 2016. She won a sum of US $10,136,615 after winning Australian Open and US Open and reaching the finals at Wimbledon. She won a silver medal in Rio Olympics and concluded the year as the World Number One female tennis player.
This time, Rafael Nadal lead the list again with a US $15,864,000 paycheck. However, that season remarked the resurgence of Roger Federer with seven ATP titles which included two Slams wins.
Rafa entered three major finals and lost one of them in Melbourne to his age-old adversary, Federer in Melbourne after leading by a break in the fifth set. Nadal just lost one match during clay tour in Rome and conquered all the titles.
On the WTA circuit, Venus Williams was the prize money leader. She reached two Slam finals and was also the finalist at WTA Tour Finals. She earned US$5,468,741 from the WTA courts and was back in the top five rankings.
Djokovic, who was a Serbian legend by now, made his comeback after his elbow surgery and won two Slams in that year. Djokovic did make a sluggish start of the season but ended up with a total prize money of US $15,967,184 from the ATP Tour. However, Nadal won the highest number of titles (5).
Simona Halep made her Grand Slam breakthrough in 2018 at the Paris major and simultaneously earned the highest prize money from the WTA circuit. She reached six WTA finals and received a paycheck of US $7,409,564.
With Rafael Nadal winning two Slams, he took home an earning of US $16,349,586. It is the second-highest prize money received in the ATP circuit after Djokovic’s paycheck in 2015.
Ashleigh Barty held the top spot on the women’s list of prize money leaders in 2019 with a paycheck of US $11,307,587. She won her maiden Slam in Paris this year and concluded the year by clinching the WTA Finals title in Shenzhen.