Novak Djokovic responded to Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore’s controversial comments on women’s tennis on Sunday by saying he believes male players deserve more prize money because they draw more spectators than their female counterparts.
Before Djokovic’s straight-sets win over Milos Raonic on Sunday in the BNP Paribas final, Moore said that male players have carried the sport of tennis and female players “ride on coattails of the men.”
“Obviously it’s a very delicate situation,” Djokovic said, according to The Guardian. “Women deserve respect and admiration for what they are doing. You know, equal prize money was the main subject of the tennis world in the last seven, eight years. I have been through that process as well so I understand how much power and energy WTA and all the advocates for equal prize money have invested in order to reach that.
“I applaud them for that, I honestly do. They fought for what they deserve and they got it. On the other hand 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. Women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve.
“As long as it’s like that and there is data and stats available upon who attracts more attention, spectators, who sells more tickets and stuff like that, in relation to that it has to be fairly distributed.”
Serena Williams refuted the idea that men’s tennis matches are more popular than women’s after her finals loss to Victoria Azarenka.
“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. “So I don’t think that is a very accurate statement.
“Last year the women’s final at the U.S. Open sold out well before the men. I’m sorry, did Roger play in that final or Rafa or any man play in a final that was sold out before the men’s final? I think not.”
Djokovic stressed that he respected female players, and suggested that dealing with hormones presents them with a unique challenge.
“I have tremendous respect for what women in global sport are doing and achieving,” Djokovic said. “Their bodies are much different to men’s bodies. They have to go through a lot of different things that we don’t have to go through. You know, the hormones and different stuff, we don’t need to go into details.”
- Erin Flynn