World No 1 Novak Djokovic has indicated men’s tennis should get more prize money than women because it has more spectators as a new controversy over equality in the sport erupted.
After winning the Indian Wells title for the fifth time, the Serbian star said tournament director Raymond Moore was wrong to say that women’s tennis is riding on the coattails of the men’s game. Following his controversial comments, Moore stepped down as Indian Wells CEO and tournament director on Sunday night.
Djokovic said women “fought for what they deserve and they got it”. But he added that the men’s Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) “should fight for more.”
“I think that our men’s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more, because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches. I think that’s one of the ... reasons why maybe we should get awarded more.”
Djokovic was one of a number of players to question tournament director Moore who apologised for his comments about the women’s game after he was slammed as being “offensive” by women’s No 1 Serena Williams.
“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 told reporters on Sunday morning.
Serena hits back
Williams was scathing in her response. “Obviously, I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that,” she said.
“If I could tell you every day how many people say they don’t watch tennis unless they’re watching myself or my sister, I couldn’t even bring up that number,” Williams said.
“At my morning breakfast with the media, I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous,” Moore said in a statement.
“I am truly sorry for those remarks, and apologise to all the players and WTA as a whole,” he added.
WTA Tour chief executive Steve Simon released a statement saying, “As the tournament director of one of the most pre-eminent events in professional tennis the comments made today by Moore were extremely disappointing and alarming. The WTA stands on its own and was founded on the principles of equality and empowerment. I am proud of all those strong athletes on the WTA who put in hard work and sacrifice every single day.”