Tennis’ prizemoney debate has re-ignited after Novak Djokovic claimed male players should earn more than their female counterparts because of ticket sales.
The Serb’s comments came after Indian Wells tournament director Raymond Moore was slammed for saying ‘lady players’ are riding on the coattails of men’s tennis.
Moore attracted derision from the likes of Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka for a series of provocative comments.
“In my next life when I come back, I want to be someone in the WTA, because they ride on the coattails of the men,” he initially said.
“They don’t make any decisions and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky.
“If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport.”
Moore also cited Canadian Eugenie Bouchard and Spaniard Garbine Muguruza as being among the “attractive prospects” on the tour, but later apologised and said his words were in “extremely poor taste”.
Djokovic, who thrashed Milos Raonic 6-2 6-0 to win the Indian Wells men’s title, was asked to respond to Moore’s comments.
He said, in addition to Moore’s comments being ‘not politically correct’, that the men’s tour should fight for more prize money.
“Stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches,” Djokovic said.
“I think that is one of the … reasons why maybe we should get awarded more.
“As long as it is like that and there is data and stats available and information … upon who attracts more attention, spectators, who sells more tickets and stuff like that, in relation to that it has to be fairly distributed.”
Djokovic said he had “tremendous respect” for women in tennis, especially as they had to “go through a lot of different things that we (men) don’t have to go through. You know, the hormones and different stuff”.
‘Very, very, very inaccurate’ remarks slammed
World No.1 Serena Williams, who lost the women’s final at Indian Wells in straight sets to Victoria Azarenka, was quick to condemn Moore.
She labelled his comments as a disservice to female athletes, WTA Tour co-founder Billie Jean King and “every woman on this planet that has ever tried to stand up for what they believed in and being proud to be a woman”.
“Those remarks are very much mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate,” she said.
“Obviously I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that.”
Azarenka said such criticism towards women remained an issue globally, including sports and business.
“What women do best is rise above these comments,” she said.
“You don’t hear complaints or bad comments towards men.
“If we rise above that and keep working hard in everything we do, we’re better.
“We’re better at taking opportunities and being graceful. It’s our duty to keep just working hard through whatever comments there is.”