World number one Novak Djokovic says male tennis players should earn more money than their female counterparts because more people watch them play.
Earlier, Indian Wells tournament CEO Raymond Moore said the women’s WTA Tour”ride on the coat-tails of the men”.
After claiming victory at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, 11-time major winner Djokovic said the men’s tennis tour “should fight for more”.
But the Serb described Moore’s comments as “not politically correct”.
Djokovic, 28, said women “fought for what they deserve and they got it”, but claimed prize money should be “fairly distributed” based on “who attracts more attention, spectators and who sells more tickets”.
There has been equal prize money in all four majors – the Australian Open, US Open, French Open and Wimbledon – since 2007, and combined Masters events such as Indian Wells and Miami pay the same to men and women.
But female players are paid significantly less at women-only events when compared with similar sized men’s events.
World number one Serena Williams said Moore’s statement was “offensive”, calling it “mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate”.
“There’s only one way to interpret that. Get on your knees, which is offensive enough, and thank a man,” added 21-time major winner Williams, 34. “We shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point.”
Moore, a 69-year-old former player from South Africa, said: “If I was a lady player, I would go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.”
He later apologised for the “erroneous” remarks. Media captionSerena Williams reacts to ‘inaccurate’ comments on women’s tennis
Billie Jean King, who co-founded the WTA Tour and won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, tweeted: “Disappointed in Raymond Moore comments. He is wrong on so many levels. Every player, especially the top players, contribute to our success.”
WTA CEO Steve Simon, said Moore’s comments were “extremely disappointing and alarming”.
What else did Djokovic say?
The Serb admitted it was a “very delicate situation” and was “completely for women power”. He said:
- Equal prize money has been the main subject of the tennis world in the past seven or eight years
- Both men and women’s games should “fight for what they think they deserve”
- Women have to go through “hormones” and other challenges men do not
- Women have to make “sacrifices for certain periods of time, the family time or decisions that they make on their own bodies in order to play tennis”