British teenage tennis star Emma Raducanu is set to earn millions through lucrative sponsorship deals and endorsements, experts say, after her stunning win at the US Open.
The 18-year-old received $2.5 million (£1.8 million) in prize money for the title, far exceeding the $303,000 she had previously earned during her brief career.
However, marketing experts predict she will make millions more in the future, with brands lining up to secure off-court deals.
According to Forbes business magazine, tennis players dominate the richest sportswomen rankings, with the nine highest paid female athletes in the world all being tennis players.
This suggests that Raducanu, who already has a Nike shoe and clothing sponsorship contract as well as a Wilson racquet sponsorship, has a lot of room to grow.
According to Nigel Currie, a sponsorship and marketing consultant, Raducanu has the potential to earn comparable levels to some of the highest-paid female sports stars off the court if she maintains her form on it.
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“The sky is the limit for her really. She is in the right sport, one of the most lucrative sports for female athletes,” he said.
“She has obviously got to keep winning, she is right at the start of her career. There is no reason to assume she won’t go on to win other events and other grand slams.”
‘A marketing dream’
Raducanu had a “uniqueness” for brands, according to Mr Currie, because Britain had not had a female grand slam champion in more than 40 years. He went on to say that the timing of the teenager’s success was “perfect” because superstar Serena Williams was nearing the end of her career.
Two sponsorship agreements are typical for an unranked player, according to Mr Currie, but the next round of deals the new British number one negotiates will be “absolutely huge, with Nike and Adidas fighting over her.”
“She is a very personable and bright young lady.” She responds well to the questions. She says the right things – from a marketing standpoint, she’s a dream,” he adds.
“The majority of top stars have six or seven sponsorship deals.” There will be a massive, mega-watch deal around the corner, and they (major tennis stars) will all have it.”
Mr Currie also stated that clothing companies would try to secure Raducanu, who appears in the October issue of Vogue, as an ambassador.
Max Eisenbud, vice-president of tennis at the entertainment company IMG, currently manages Raducanu. He previously managed former world number one Maria Sharapova, who was the highest-paid female athlete in the world for 11 years in a row.
“There are plenty of deals Emma could make with big brands,” Emlyon Business School’s Simon Chadwick told BBC 5 live. “There’s a lot of potential in terms of where Emma could go commercially.”
“Emma’s age, she’s Generation Z, her dual heritage, her growing profile, and the global platform she’s on all point to big things for her,” Mr Chadwick continued.
Naomi Osaka, 23, is the world’s highest-paid female athlete at the moment, having surpassed Serena Williams in May 2020.
According to Forbes, her total earnings are $37.4 million (£27.2 million), breaking Maria Sharapova’s 2015 record for the most money ever earned by a female athlete in a year. Osaka is the 28th highest-paid athlete in the world, including male players.
Following her back-to-back Grand Slam victories in 2018 and 2019, Nike paid around $10 million (£7.2 million) to acquire Osaka from Adidas, and she now has 15 corporate sponsors.
Raducanu’s potential earnings from endorsements are enormous when compared to Osaka’s benchmark of $34 million (£24.6) from endorsements – ten times her total prize money earnings.
‘Inspiring young image’
According to Trevor Watkins of Pinsent Masons, a sports industry lawyer, “ultimately, having a strong team around her will reflect the measure of success going forward.”
“Her personality’s ability to drive value is a huge factor for her, but the difficult part will be ensuring she makes the right choices.”
Historic social media posts and negative publicity have reflected poorly on other athletes and resulted in the termination of sponsorship deals in sports such as cricket, but Mr Watkins believes Raducanu has a “inspiring young image” that businesses will want to capitalise on.
“Brands won’t pay a million dollars without commitments, but she’ll be able to pick and choose who she wants to associate with now.”
Roger Federer is the world’s richest tennis player, ranking seventh among athletes in 2021. He is estimated to be worth $450 million (£324.3 million).