From Wertheim: appearance fees
Are appearance fees still the best-kept secret in tennis? About a decade ago, these tournament incentives got a lot of press, but one rarely hears mention of them anymore. Since I'm assuming that such numbers would be undisclosed, what's your best guess on how much the top players can make in appearance fees per year? Also, any idea on whether or not men and women earn comparable bonuses for showing up?
—Jason Rainey, Dallas
Men's tennis makes no secret of appearance fees. In the women's game, they are technically forbidden, but that rule is as easily circumvented as an Argenbright Security checkpoint. Top draws like Agassi and Kournikova can make bank (mid-six figures, anyway), particularly in Asia and places like Dubai. Players on the next tier down usually make between $50-150K, though there are often conditions like attending sponsor functions, flying into town in the weeks prior to the tournament to drum up publicity, taping television spots. Also, in some cases the guarantees count against prize money.
I wouldn't call it an irony, but one curious wrinkle: The bigger the event, the less the appearance lucre. Whereas the L.A. event needs to open the checkbook to lure the stars,[ events like the Slams and Masters Series (often flush with cash to start with) don't have to pay for the players' services