No. 243 Dejana Radanovic tells incredibly sad story of struggles of lower-ranked

Radanovic claims she her expenses are always bigger than the money she is making.

by Dzevad Mesic
No. 243 Dejana Radanovic tells incredibly sad story of struggles of lower-ranked
© Getty Images Sport - Mike Owen

World No. 243 Dejana Radanovic has told a pretty shocking story as the 27-year-old Serbian tennis player claims she is constantly having more expenses than earnings in tennis and it is her family who is basically helping her survive and still be a pro tennis player. 

Radanovic, who will be turning 28 in May, enjoyed one of her best seasons last year when she won three ITF titles. For Radanovic, it was a great season and something that she absolutely needed after injuries limited her playing time in 2021 and 2022 and caused her ranking to plummet to around No. 1000 on the WTA rankings list. 

But according to former world No. 187 Radanovic, it was far from ideal in her great 2023 season as she claims she made money in only one tournament played last year. 

"Last year, I profited in only one tournament, and I played 17, 18 of them and won three titles... And that came in the tournament in Skopje," Radanovic told Nova RS

"If the prize pool is $40,000, the winner wins about 10 percent or so. And it depends, in tournaments where there are 32 tennis players in the draw, it is usually 10 percent. If there are 48 players, she gets even less. Then, as a winner, I got $4,000 and was in the red (paid more money than she won) after paying for fuel, hotel and everything else."

Dejana Radanovic
Dejana Radanovic© Dejana Radanovic - Instagram

Radanovic: I'm always 'in the red'

Over the last couple of years, there have been more calls to improve prize money in the lower-level tournaments so the players ranked outside the top-200 could make a better living and give themselves a better chance to make another step in their careers. One of the loudest in those talks has been Novak Djokovic's PTPA, which has frequently spoken out about the importance of improving conditions for the lower-ranked players. 

On the WTA website, it says that Radanovic has earned $202,442 so far in her career. Also, it claims Radanovic netted $18,170 in prize money during the 2023 season, in which she won three titles. But Radanovic insists the reality is completely different and that she is "thousands and thousands of euros in the red."

"You are always in some kind of a red zone (negative zone, paying more money than actually earning). Tennis is a both physical and mental sport, chess in motion. There are so many things, you are constantly in the red, so you always find yourself in the red," Radanovic said. 

"Then I would ask myself, like a stupid person, you exhaust yourself so much that you would end up with thousands and thousands of euros in the red."

Dejana Radanovic
Dejana Radanovic© Dejana Radanovic - Instagram

Further explaining why that's the case, Radanovic said that there are several expenses that she needs to pay regularly and cost a lot of money.

"One reel of strings for rackets costs 100 euros. And you need ten of those a year. Then there are plane tickets, equipment, hotel payments for tournaments," Radanovic said.

"For a normal, average life of a tennis player, if you don't go to five-star hotels, except in India, you need between 30 and 60, 70 thousand euros. When you pay for the coach, the hall, the balls, the outside courts, the expenses at the tournaments, the bags... The figure reaches 200,000. 

"For example, I had a really great year last year, I started from the 1000th place and reached the 250th, which is really great. And then you go back to getting to 250 and you're at a loss again."

Radanovic: My dad is the sponsor

When asked how she is surviving as a pro tennis player if she paying more money than earning, Radanovic revealed that her dad often gives her €150 for the most basic things. While a €150 sum isn't anything special, it still means a lot to Radanovic. 

"The sponsors for now are - dad. Give me 100 euros for proteins, 50 euros for vitamins for the basic things I need. This is not any bragging, but basic things that you, as an athlete, must use," Radanovic said.

Dejana Radanovic
Dejana Radanovic © Dejana Radanovic - Instagram

So far this season, Radanovic played in four tournaments in India. After losing in the first round of the ITF tournaments in Bangalore and Pune, Radanovic made the quarterfinal at an ITF event in Indore before retiring midway through her quarterfinal match due to an injury. 

After appearing in three ITF tournaments, Radanovic entered the qualifying event for a WTA 125 tournament in Mumbai. Unfortunately for Radanovic, she was forced to retire her Mumbai qualifying first-round match after just five games. 

After not playing for nearly a month, Radanovic is returning to action at this week's ITF event in Helsinki, where she will be starting against Laura Hietaranta in the first round. In their first and lone meeting, Radanovic lost to Hietaranta at an ITF event in Trieste last year.

Dejana Radanovic