First of all, tennis players are starting their «professional» careers at a very young age. For example, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams have started doing tennis since they were 18.
Second of all, tennis has always been considered an elite and luxury sport or simply saying quite an expensive one. Not every parent can afford to sponsor their child’s tennis practices, which is why we do not see that many tennis players compared to football, for example. Frankly saying, it costs a lot of time and money to make a professional tennis player.
So how can you return the invested money and time? The general answer would be «by winning games» or «by becoming a champion». That is definitely one way to do it. Many people do not consider the fact that it is quite hard to make a living out of just playing tennis, and only a few make it. The rest just wanders around the world like a travelling circus in pursuits of money and fame. Well, mainly money but those closer than they think.
Many of you imagine Rafael Nadal celebrating another triumph or Simone Halep breaking out into tears after winning another Grand Slam tournament. Yes, that is definitely the way to picture that, however, we had a chance to see it all from another perspective, which is not quite as fascinating.
80% of the players are living on the edge of survival. What does it exactly mean? It means that while they keep going from one tournament to another, the money they make is barely enough to cover all the travel, accommodation and other costs. Sometimes dropping out in the first round of the tournament held in Arabic countries and giving private tennis classes to sheikhs’ kids in the meanwhile, pays out more for lower-ranked players. An hour of such a private class can cost even $100, while a several-day-long tournament win, like for example the one from Futures series, will earn you around a thousand dollars. You do the math. However, that is not the worst that can happen.
Let’s go back to the earnings of the lower-ranked player, which generally are barely covering all the expenses. Hopefully, a generous sponsor will pay a visit to a young player one day, offering him/her money to support his/her career. Well, nothing comes free in this life and tennis is definitely not an exception. Most of the time, this generous sponsor has mafia ties, and by offering you a once-in-a-lifetime chance might one day ask you for a small favour.